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.
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.
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. Last year saw the introduction of Android for TVs, watches, and even cars, so now is the time for developers to start thinking about how their experiences will look and feel on those new form factors.
To that end, Google has announced a new reference sample app - a music player - that's available for developers to play with.
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. This isn't entirely a bad thing, as it's giving me time to work on some other projects... You'll see soon enough <wink>. But, we've finally got something to talk about with the latest release of Google Play services 6.5. Strictly speaking, a few of tidbits to follow were actually first seen in different minor releases of 6.1, but we're putting it all together here.
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. A Google executive has told Re/code that the company plans to loosen its restrictions over time.
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. The updated page includes screenshots of the app launcher (such as it is), Google Play Music, and some basic menus.
The core idea behind Auto is simplicity: for safety's sake, you don't want the user to need to do more than glance at the car stereo screen to know what he or she is doing.
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. User interfaces made using UI Composer can then be controlled remotely using Wi-Fi or Bluetooth. A Google Nexus 7 running Android Jelly Bean is used in one of the examples - it's basically an Android controller talking to a system running Android.
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? No problem. How about popping up a menu of music apps when you plug in your headphones? You got it.
However, the Tasker "task" that brandall from xda created today takes the cake when it comes to complexity and functionality.
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. In addition to that, these applications (Tasker especially) can be somewhat (read extremely) intimidating in the level of control they give you and the sheer volume of options at your disposal. If you're looking for something a bit simpler but still really powerful as well as significantly more free, AutomateIt might be just the tool you need.