One of the biggest challenges to creating good apps for Android Auto has been actually testing the experience. Many independent developers can't afford to purchase brand new cars with Auto built-in, and aftermarket head units won't fit in most recently manufactured cars without heavy modification, and most of those units aren't very good anyway. When the Auto SDK came out, it included simulators that could be used for basic testing of just the messaging and media browser interfaces, but even these weren't good substitutes for the real thing. Today, Google released the Android Auto Desktop Head Unit, a functioning implementation of the Android Auto platform that runs right on a desktop or laptop. Read More
The Android Auto app is getting an update to v1.2, and there are some notable changes this time, mostly revolving around the home screen. Google has posted a changelog in the Play Store, but it only tells part of the story. Read More
You knew this was coming sooner or later. Android Auto has been viewed as a mostly closed system, if not by nature of the software itself (which is technically open source) then by the fact that it's an extension of Android running on a big chunk of metal installed in your car. But some intrepid developers over on enthusiast forum AVIC411 have discovered a way to boot software directly from the SD card slot on Pioneer's NEX series of aftermarket Android Auto head units. That paves the way for custom ROMs in your car, or at least your car's entertainment system. Read More
Toyota is at this point already known as something of an opponent to Android Auto, and a new press release today seems to confirm that the company's commitment to not using Google or Apple's connected car systems is ongoing. Additionally, multiple websites have confirmed with Telenav and Toyota that this is essentially seen as an "alternative" to the Auto/CarPlay approach.
A partnership with a company called Telenav will allow Toyota owners to connect their smartphones to their vehicle in order to project a third-party navigation app onto their... I'm sorry, what were we talking about? I've never felt myself losing interest in something so quickly. Read More
The media playback situation on Android Auto is not great, but it's a little better today now that Audiobooks.com works in the car. This is somehow the first audio book source with proper support for Google's car platform. Hey Audible, maybe you want to get on that too? Thanks. Read More
At an event in California earlier today, Volkswagen officially announced that upcoming 2016 VW models will be Android Auto-ready. Which models? For now, what we know is this: most model year 2016 VWs at "SE" trim and above will likely pack the generation two MIB infotainment system, which has Android Auto (and Apple CarPlay). There are 6.5" and 8" versions of MIB 2, but both offer the same Auto experience. Read More
Collectively, the userbases for Android M and Android Auto have to represent only a tiny fraction of the total users of Android. But those people are also the most dedicated Android fans, so any developer hoping to get attention from power users would do well to consider them. Case in point: BeyondPod, the go-to podcast manager. This weekend the developers posted new betas with support for Android M and Android Auto on their official forums.
Notice the plural there: you can't get support for both M and Auto in the same app, at least not yet. The 4.1 branch currently supports Android Auto head units, and the 4.2 branch supports the versions of the Android M Developer Preview that have been released so far. Read More
As the year goes on, more and more automakers are announcing vehicles with Android Auto, and Honda joined the club today with the refreshed 2016 Accord.
The new Accord will be arriving soon at American dealerships (how soon, we're not sure), and it will be among the very first cars to ship with both Android Auto and Apple Car Play here in the US. Currently, no on-sale vehicle is offered with both, and some upcoming cars won't get both until dealer-installed software updates are made available.
The 2016 Accord is the second model to use Honda's new Android-powered infotainment experience (not to be confused with Android Auto), which proves to be a vast step up from previous iterations of Honda's system, with smooth 60FPS graphics and better performance overall. Read More
The long-awaited Nearby is on the horizon, and it will be launching with Play Services 7.8. The APK is in the midst of its rollout right now. It contains a few elements of Nearby, and surely plenty of bug fixes and tweaks, but there are also plenty of interesting pieces hidden inside, as well. After a quick long examination, we've got the interesting bits and pieces ready for viewing, along with some theories about what it all means. It's time for a teardown!
Disclaimer: Teardowns are necessarily speculative and usually based on incomplete evidence. It's possible that the guesses made here are totally and completely wrong.
For many of us, the question isn't whether we want Android Auto, it's whether we're willing to spend the money it takes to set things up in the car we already own. Doing so is an investment that can easily cost over a grand, and that's a lot to pay for the luxury of not having to look at your phone to do the same functionality. Fortunately, some prices have been dropping.
Pioneer is currently offering a $75 rebate on AVH-4100NEX head units sold through authorized retailers. Walmart is one such retailer, and it's selling the hardware for $530. Read More