The Android Auto companion app is generally one of those things you're probably only going to work with a couple of times before you're done setting things up, then it'll stay tucked away, never to be seen again. But that doesn't mean it shouldn't look good and be as useful as possible. An update to the Android Auto app began rolling out today and it's a near total refresh of the user interface. Granted, there's not a lot to change, but it now looks much more like the companion app for Android Wear. But it's not just a new skin, there are actually a couple of functional improvements, too. Read More
The Volkswagen Jetta is, admittedly, the occasional butt of car enthusiast jokes. Long considered a slightly snobby small economy sedan because of its comparatively high price of entry and less-than-great reliability reviews, the car didn't sell amazingly well here in the states for quite some time. Five years ago, VW tried to turn that sales situation around, completely redesigning the Jetta and drastically reducing the cost of many of its constituent parts - the result was the Mk.VI Jetta, and sales did go up quite noticeably.
But the car was compromised, and reviewers generally weren’t fans. Cost-cuts included things like fitting an unrefined rear beam-axle suspension system on most models, ditching optional leather trims, saddling the base car with a gutless 2.0-liter naturally-aspirated 4-cylinder engine, and conducting most of the design and assembly in Mexico instead of Germany. Read More
Motor Trend published an article about the new 2017 Porsche 911 (it's got a turbo! whoooosh) yesterday, and while it's largely just a lot of car jargon, there's a bit in there about Android Auto that caught my eye. Specifically, why the new 911 doesn't have it:
As part of the agreement an automaker would have to enter with Google, certain pieces of data must be collected and mailed back to Mountain View, California.
The Honda Civic is one of the most popular economy cars on the planet, thanks in no small part to Honda's continual updates over the last forty years. The 2016 model year, which incidentally includes a complete redesign for its tenth generation, will be the first model to support Google's Android Auto digital platform. It's the second car model in Honda's lineup to do so, after the larger 2016 Accord, and it also supports Apple's CarPlay standard.
According to a press release by Honda, the new models will appear in North America this fall after rolling off of the manufacturing lines in Indiana and Ontario. Read More
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
Back in January at CES 2015, French tech company Parrot announced an Android Auto head unit to end all Android Auto head units. At least, that's what it looked like. Parrot never announced pricing or availability for the RNB6 (catchy name!), and all news about it pretty much fell to the wayside post-show. To be fair, this happens frequently with Parrot products - the company uses trade shows to gauge interest in what are, essentially, working prototypes, and then decides whether or not they're worth making.
The RNB6, Parrot has concluded, is not the sort of thing they want to sell to consumers. 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