Android Auto has traditionally required connecting your phone to a car with a USB cable, but a wireless mode was introduced in 2018 for some Pixel phones. Samsung devices were later added to the compatibility list, and starting with Android 11, every Android phone that supports 5GHz Wi-Fi should be capable of running wireless Android Auto.
Even though people aren't driving as much these days, Google isn't tapping the brakes on the further development of Android Auto. The in-car interface got a new landscape map layout earlier this summer, and access to calendar appointments should be returning before too long. Now Google is announcing that new apps are coming to the platform in categories such as navigation, parking, and electric vehicle charging.
When you're running late to an appointment, or even just driving around town with several stops planned, the last thing you should do is reach for your phone to look up an address. When Android Auto was announced, this seemed to be the type of problem Google was trying to solve. An imperfect solution existed through Google Assistant, but it was removed without a good alternative to replace it. But things are looking up because Google is launching a calendar on Android Auto that gives you quick and easy access to your itinerary.
Virtually every major auto manufacturer has already incorporated Android Auto into their infotainment systems, leaving BMW as the final holdout. Although the company had claimed in 2017 that it had no plans to add Android Auto to their lineup, it must have changed its mind at some point, because it announced in December of last year that Android Auto would be coming in July 2020. Well, it's July 2020, and I can confirm that BMW has finally made this long-awaited Android Auto update available.
Android Auto is on a roll this year. Merely six months ago, the Play Store app listing hit 100 million downloads, and already the app has now crashed through the half-billion barrier. Of course, most phones ship with the app pre-installed these days, easily inflating those numbers. Still, it's a milestone for Google's smart in-car infotainment system.
Microsoft's messaging platform Skype is still very much alive, even though the company is starting to roll out the business-oriented Microsoft Teams to everyone. The latest update to the Android application finally includes Android Auto support, but there's a catch — only text messages will appear on your car's screen, not voice or video calls.
After a large number of complaints about a bug affecting Assistant on Android Auto, Google has finally released a fix along with the latest version of the Google app that should put the issue to bed. A post outlining the problem on the Android Auto support site received more than 1,200 upvotes and a similar number of replies from other afflicted users.
Google typically rolls out changes to its design language every couple years, but many of the company's apps still take months, if not years to catch up. The wireframe style icons that started popping up in 2018 have become fairly ubiquitous, but there are still a few notable holdouts. Android Auto would have been counted among them, but it looks like a new set of icons has been silently swapped in for the Google Maps navigation interface.
Android Auto is a great way to play media, take phone calls, and get directions more safely than just using your phone while moving. Unfortunately, many of us are still driving vehicles that don't offer a built-in AA option. However, there are still ways to get Android Auto in your car, and installing a new head unit. Sony just announced plans to release a new model with support for Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, Weblink capabilities, and a 6.95" capacitive screen.