Google has announced details about the future of Android Auto and Android Automotive on its developers blog. With the updates coming soon to Apple CarPlay, this was timely.
Google confirmed in the coming months it will have equipped over 100 million cars globally with Android Auto. With almost every major carmaker now offering the capability, some are adding support for wireless Android Auto.
Updates you will see rolling out over the coming months to Android Auto in some ways play catch up with the already-announced changes to Apple CarPlay.
Here is what you can be excited about.
New app categories
Android Auto has largely been a method to control music and Google Maps on your infotainment system. The upcoming changes will add alternative navigation apps, parking apps and electric vehicle charging.
Partners such as TomTom, ChargePoint, and Spot Hero will be some of the first to be added, but you can expect Australian names like Wilsons Parking, ChargeFox, and Navman to appear in the near future.
If that sounds familiar, it’s because Apple announced those exact categories for iOS 14. This is great for people who own both Android and Apple smartphones, because the experience will remain similar. For Android Auto users, these changes will start to appear early in 2021.
Increased calendar integration
Access your appointments using Android Auto. Owners can click on calendar items and jump immediately to navigation via Google Maps, or call the venue.
One example would be jumping in the car clicking on your dinner reservation and starting navigation. If you’re running late, another tap will put you in touch with the restaurant.
Android Auto Settings
This is something that previously needed to be done on the phone, which has always seemed a bit counter-intuitive.
You’ll soon see an expanded Settings menu in Android Auto allowing you to manage notifications, playback control, and other relevant preferences. It has been designed with simple toggles for on/off to avoid too much distraction behind the wheel.
Android Automotive updates
While Android Auto is a smartphone mirroring option within a carmaker’s infotainment system, Android Automotive is the car’s infotainment system.
Everything from the air conditioning to the navigation is all Android. Currently the only vehicle on sale with Android Automotive, in some markets, is the Polestar 2.
Volvo, Renault, and GM have plans in place to adopt Android Automotive for future vehicles, which means developers will shift some attention to ensuring their apps are on the store in the vehicle.
Developers now have access to a virtual emulator of Android Automotive to design and test their apps, so expect that app store to be content-heavy before we even see it for the first time.
We’ve often joked that the car is becoming a smartphone on wheels, this is now proving true. For many brands this is a blessing as they can work with Google for the infotainment system and not be concerned with developing their own.
Instead, consumers will be able to sit in a car with a familiar user experience and be satisfied without needing to mirror their phone.