Despite having a worldwide presence, Google can often be depressingly myopic when it comes to thinking of other countries. Case in point: Android Auto has been around for six years, and only now is Google thinking about optimizing Maps for countries where people drive on the left (with a car's steering wheel on the right), representing more than a billion people.
Android Automotive might just be the most exciting thing going in the world of Android. Not to be confused with the older Android Auto, Automotive is a ground-up open source operating system for managing a car's entire interaction with the driver. We've seen a lot of commitments from manufacturers like Chevy and Ford, but so far few production vehicles are ready to roll with Android Automotive. French manufacturer Renault might just get the next one out: its new all-electric Mégane E-Tech crossover.
Cars and home energy are two very different markets, unless you're rich enough to be a repeat customer of Tesla. If that's the case, you can manage your car (or cars) and your home's energy output from the same app. The combined Tesla management app is seeing a sizeable overhaul in its 4.0 release. While it isn't up on the Play Store for everyone yet, a few users are seeing it, and it's been posted to APK Mirror.
Google's car platform, Android Auto, gets updates just like the rest of Android. The company is now letting users try out beta updates to the system, delivered via the Android Auto app on the Play Store. The beta version should run on any car stereo that's Android Auto-capable.
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.
Android Auto has been around long enough to be adopted by all major car manufacturers, with the final holdout — BMW — having taken the plunge late last year. That still leaves out a few specialized car companies refusing to support Google's car-friendly service. You can scratch Porsche off that list, as the 2022 911 models will be the carmaker's first vehicles to include Android Auto.
Although a bunch of cars now come with advanced navigation systems, these can rarely beat the simplicity and expansibility of Android Auto. Sadly, though, Google's in-car service isn't globally available, leaving many users unable to properly use their favorite services from their ride's dashboard. Thankfully, Android Auto is expanding to 36 more countries, making it seamless to get directions, play music, and interact with Assistant, thanks to native integration with your car's infotainment system.
The Fiat 500 doesn't turn any heads, except perhaps those of car enthusiasts looking for an extended sneer. But it's a popular model: a cheap, fuel-efficient, and eminently practical grocery-getter for urbanites. For the upcoming model year, Google and Fiat have joined forces for a "Hey Google Edition" of the hatchback, offering more extensive integration with Google Assistant than ever before.
A few weeks ago I bought a used Kia Soul. (Please, no comments from the peanut gallery.) I'm pretty pleased with it overall, and my dog Marty freakin' loves having the spacious back all to himself. But it's a 2013 model, made in that awkward period when pretty much all cars had Bluetooth, but they sucked at it. The Soul's built-in Bluetooth stereo can't play, pause, or change tracks on my phone, which is a bummer.
About a month ago, Google published highly realistic 3D models of 250+ cars that could be viewed with an Android phone in the Search app. Today, Google has added models from Porsche, Volvo, and FCA (well, it's Stellantis now) to the mix, making it even easier to daydream.