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.
As the resident teardown guy, Update Wednesday was a huge letdown this week. After slicing and dicing a dozen or so apks, all I saw were bug fixes, minor adjustments, and updates with full changelogs. Come on Google, I can't write about the neat stuff if none of the secrets are allowed to leave Mountain View. Fortunately, I did get to look at an unreleased version of Play Services, and there are a few interesting things to take away from it.
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 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.
Seeing which manufacturers will bake Android Auto into their latest models is cool and all, but I'm looking to see which third-party options start appearing on store shelves. After all, I bought my vehicle in 2013, and I'm not looking to replace it in the next couple of years. Fortunately Kenwood has come to CES with one that supports both Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, the DDX9902S.
Out of the box, Kenwood's unit has a tacky interface that perhaps only a car enthusiast could love.
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.
Parrot usually arrives at CES with a swarm of consumer-oriented drone aircraft, but this year it's also showing off the RNB6. What is the RNB6? It's an in-dash head unit running its own version of Android 5.0, but it also has support for Android Auto and Apple CarPlay.
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...
Google hasn't had much to say about Android Auto since it previewed the platform back at I/O in June. Now there's some movement as we wait on Android Auto to show up in vehicles. The Google Developers blog has posted an introduction to Android Auto and announced that the final APIs are ready for developers to get to work.
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.