There's nothing better than jamming out in the privacy of your own car (until you hit a red light and realize everyone in the cars around you noticed). Android Auto makes it easy to sort through your favorite playlists, albums, and more, but if the interface isn't straightforward and simple, it can take your eyes off the road. YouTube Music's current UI looks pretty dated, but a new design is starting to appear for some users.
In all likelihood, Android Automotive is a flavor of Google's near-ubiquitous operating system you've never actually used, and probably won't (statistically) for a long time yet. It's also, in my eyes, the most important version of the platform since the original. About two weeks ago, I spent four days with Automotive in the Polestar 2, an EV from the sister brand of Swedish carmaker Volvo, that launched in the United States in 2020. I also drove it last year for a few short hours, and didn't exactly have the time to fully flesh out my thoughts on the car, the software, and how it all works together in a cohesive way.
Google is trying to take over in-car software with initiatives like Android Auto and Android Automotive OS, and that effort seems to be well received among customers and car manufacturers. The company today announced that there are now over 100 million cars compatible with Android Auto on the road. And Android Automotive, Google's dedicated software kit for in-car infotainment, is also coming to ten more vehicles launching this year.
Google I/O day one is just about a wrap, and with it came an absolute tsunami of news. Android is getting its biggest design overhaul in half a decade. Wear OS is being completely pivoted — and merging with Samsung Tizen?! Android Automotive is headed to more cars, and as usual, Google announced a smorgasbord of app updates and changes to apps you use every day. We've got all the big news here, and there's a lot of it, so let's buckle down and get through this stuff!
In a vacuum, Android Auto isn't a great product. So, it speaks volumes about the sad state of automotive infotainment systems that Android Auto has spread to 100 million cars. Google just announced that number, along with a number of other improvements that will make your phone feel more central to the driving experience. In the next version of Android, your phone might even be able to start your car, but only if you've got the right combination of mobile device and automobile.
The Honda Civic is one of the most popular vehicles on the planet, and especially in the US and Canada, thanks to its low price, reliability, and immanent practicality. It's also, starting next year, one of the most accessible ways to get wireless Android Auto in a new car. The redesigned 11th-generation model will add wireless Android Auto capability to its upgraded entertainment system.
Last year, Android Auto finally added support for all-new categories of apps. Navigation, parking, and charging software all became an option for developers to start building. That support left beta testing earlier this month, and already we've seen several apps take advantage of this new opportunity. ChargePoint was one of the companies highlighted by Google in its announcement, and an update is now going live. Starting today, drivers can search and navigate to charging stations for their vehicles right from Android Auto.
Last week, Google finally made it possible to bring third-party navigation apps to Android Auto without requiring a beta version. The company promoted a list of new driving services coming alongside the change, including TomTom AmiGo. If you're looking to switch away from Google Maps or Waze, a new update to AmiGo adds Android Auto support to display on your car's infotainment system.
Until now, Google Maps and Waze (also owned by Google) were the only navigation apps to be fully supported on Android Auto — others were restricted to the phone interface. This is now changing as popular alternative Sygic becomes one of the first third-party navigation apps to have native support for Android Auto.