It has been nearly a year since Google announced Android Auto, and it's still available almost nowhere. No car companies have built the technology into their 2015 vehicles (though some may get a software update with support later), and only a handful of aftermarket head units have the software. So what's the deal? Is it worth getting excited for? I've finally gotten my hands on one of Pioneer's Android Auto units (the 8100NEX), and here's how I'm feeling about it after a few days.
Telegram is a secure messaging app that a lot of people like more than WhatsApp, not that it really matters what's objectively better than the other. Messaging apps are only useful if other people are using them. Telegram does okay, though, and maybe today's update will drive adoption even more. It has stickers! Stickers!
Is it a "deal alert" if the cheapest option is still way more than most people want to pay? Probably not, but if you're in the market for Pioneer's first car stereo head units equipped with Android Auto, you can save some considerable cash anyway. The new models have been heavily discounted on Amazon almost immediately after being released, often by hundreds of dollars. For example, the top-of-the-line AVIC-8100NEX, with a wallet-pounding suggested retail price of $1400, is going for just $934 on Amazon.
Maybe a grand is a little much to pay for functionality that can mostly be replicated with any $200 Bluetooth-equipped stereo and a decent phone dock.
Android Auto is finally here! Sort of. It's available in exactly one (incredibly expensive) car stereo at the moment, meaning that there are probably more active users of the Nexus Q right now. But that isn't stopping some responsible developers from adding the support for the new hardware into their apps, and today popular podcast manager BeyondPod joins them. The latest beta version, available as a direct download or via the Play Store beta system, works with Google's automotive electronics push.
I'd love to show you a photo of BeyondPod working with Android Auto, but of course I don't have one of those Pioneer head units or a compatible car.
On the off chance you've got Android Auto in your vehicle, you might be interested to know there's a developer mode built-in. Even if you don't have Android Auto yet, you might still be vaguely interested in an abstract sort of way. You can access it through the Android app and it only takes a few taps.
Google has finally pushed an official Android Auto app to the Play Store that will allow Lollipop phones to work with the first few head units and cars with support for the platform. It only works on phones running 5.0 or higher, and is pretty much useless without a compatible Android Auto system—you probably don't have one of those.
Android Auto is probably the Android platform of least general public concern, but it's an exciting one, if you ask me - who doesn't want Google Now in the car? Still, if you've not been paying close attention to Auto news in the past few months very closely, you might not have noticed that Android Auto is... not actually officially released.
Which is why you're seeing some articles today about Pioneer's aftermarket head units with Android Auto being on sale. You can buy one - like this one, for $1400. And since it says Android Auto on the box, it's got Android Auto, right?
Android Auto and the Open Automotive Alliance currently enjoy the support of the world's largest manufacturer of passenger vehicles (Volkswagen Group) and eight of the ten largest passenger vehicle manufacturers in the world. It may surprise you, then, that Toyota, the world's largest automaker (counting commercial vehicles and buses), is not one of those eight. And it is, according to the manager of Toyota's advanced technology communications division, going to stay that way for the foreseeable future, at least in the US (presumably, this guy works for Toyota USA).
Android Auto hasn't arrived in vehicles yet, but interested parties are already getting their ducks in a row. We've seen car manufacturers announce support and a handful of aftermarket radio makers show off their products (Parrot, Kenwood, Pioneer), all stuff to get excited about. But for any of this to be good, app developers have to get behind the platform as well. So it's good to see iHeartRadio add Android Auto support in the latest app update.
The screenshot added to the iHeartRadio app's Play Store page shows an interface that's just as stock-looking and Google-y as we would hope. It looks notably different from the existing iHeartRadio for Auto app that's made for vehicles but not related to Android Auto.
The ranks of Android Auto in-dash head units continue to grow at CES, but they aren't going to be cheap. While Parrot neglected to mention a price for its , Pioneer is coming right out with it. The new NEX series units will start at $700 with support for Android Auto and CarPlay.