It's no secret that Google advocates developing apps with multiple form factors in mind. While not all the apps in Google's own portfolio are quite up to speed on this front, apps like the ones in Google's Play suite have done a nice job so far in supporting phones and tablets alike.
But since I/O 2014, Google's been working on more than just phones and tablets.
Certain 2015 Volkswagen cars with come equipped with Android Auto and CarPlay (Apple) support starting later this year. The option will be available in any models that come with MiB II, the second generation of the manufacturer's "modular infotainment platform," though the Golf is the only vehicle explicitly mentioned in the announcement. MirrorLink support will also come included.
Since the launch of Android 5.0 last month, the sheer number of app updates has been magnificent – and downright overwhelming. Believe it or not, most of the new versions haven't done much more than add Lollipop support and splash a fresh coat of Materialized paint on the UIs. Seriously, we've been checking.
Google is keeping a tight grip on Android as it expands the operating system out to watches, TVs, and automobiles. To understand this, take a look at the existing Wear watches on the market. Aside from shape and specs, the software experience is the same across devices. This may change in the future.
Though Google officially announced Android Auto back at Google I/O, we didn't get to see much of the car initiative at the show itself. A recent update to the Developer.Android.com page shows off a lot more of the system, primarily in how the usual Android apps on a phone interact with a dash unit in a car or truck.
Yesterday, Android Police was in San Jose checking out some nifty things at NVIDIA's 2013 GPU Technology Conference. At one of the events, the Tegra team showed off a few prototypes of automotive dashboards they're hoping to put into cars of the future.
The HMI (Human Machine Interaction)toolkit NVIDIA is developing, called UI Composer, is universal in the sense that it can run on top of Android, Linux, Windows RT, and probably other operating systems.
Some call Tasker the most versatile application ever created for Android, and I'm inclined to side with them. The app can automate hundreds of actions and bundle them together in powerful scripts that do exactly what you want them to do (see our Tasker review). Want to silence your phone at night and then restore the ringer to a predefined volume in the morning?
If your Android device relies on your interaction with it in order to do things, you're seriously missing out. There are several options that allow you to cut the cord, so to speak. The popular options have long been Locale and Tasker but, as you can see from their market pages, you have to be fiscally dedicated to the tasks they perform.
I'm not really sure how we missed this app when it was released way back in July, because it's damn cool. A company called Directed Electronics produces an automotive remote start kit that's called Viper SmartStart, and the kicker: it's controlled via smartphones. The app was available on iOS and BlackBerry for some time before being released for Android in July, and it's some pretty neat kit - check out the video (sorry, it won't embed because it's unlisted).
Walking around CES Unveiled on the first day of CES 2011, I ran into a little company called Mavizon Tech, showcasing their product with a beautiful name Mavia. I you've never heard of Mavizon, don't feel bad - they don't have many consumer-facing products just yet, but it's all about to change when Mavia hits the market later this year.