Tech Review: Android Auto
(3 minute read)
“…. the car features smartphone capabilities and integration using CarPlay and Android Auto”
This is the narrative one sees when reading a car review and/or blog – is this because more people use CarPlay than Android Auto or was Android Auto really a dud in the beginning so most people opted not to use it?
Fortunately, I have both an Android and an iPhone so when the announcement was out that Android Auto had received a much-needed upgrade, I was keen to see not only what was old but what is also new.
To begin, let’s start with the old Android Auto, side by side below is both platforms on the same infotainment screen.
Fast Fact: Android Auto was initially released in 2015
Immediately one can see that Android had a plain screen with your notifications and the Weather furthermore there’s a few shortcut icons below the screen to zoom you into Google Maps, Phone Application, Home Screen (for other apps) and Music Apps denoted by the headphones where you can find Spotify, Podcasts and surprisingly Telegram.
Even in its old guise, I really enjoyed the notification setup because with one quick touch you are able to quickly respond to incoming messages both on WhatsApp and SMS which is something CarPlay is unable to do as Siri does most of the work without the quick response feature to notify impatient contacts that you are currently driving
Fast Fact: Android Auto was first released in the Hyundai Sonata
Yes, eyes on the road however have you ever received a text in vernac and Siri says some bogus mumbo jumbo that you can’t even begin to understand once she reads your unread messages?
Google Assistant in Android Auto works seamlessly by reading out messages and displaying written previews of messages.
Diving into the New Android Auto
1. Dark Mode: gone is that bright background on the previous Android Auto;
2. A new navigation bar with your music controller is now displayed at the bottom of the screen with easy access to Google Assistant, Notifications and a circle Home Screen button similar to CarPlay;
3. A Home Screen with the app layout
My own personal preference is Google Maps even while using CarPlay because I’ve been led to some grungy locations using Apple Maps and I must say the Android based platform works wonders on Android Auto – a key feature I liked was that it would automatically detect which location you’re most likely to proceed to next, based on your historic movements so in the morning it would already guide you to work and in the afternoon guide you to your next stop similar to Apple Maps.
Fast Fact: Android Auto is also available on aftermarket infotainment systems such as Kenwood, Pioneer and Sony
Another key feature I loved about using Android Auto was Google Assistant’s response to bizarre requests such as “I am bored”, the assistant will most likely respond with a quick fact from Google that will quickly have you saying “Ah huh, wow! Who knew”
Should you like to use the upgraded Android Auto follow the instructions below:
1. Launch the Android Auto application on your smartphone
2. Head to Settings
3. Switch on the Try New Android Auto
CarPlay is due for a refresh with iOS13 to what is dubbed by Apple as the Digital Dashboard with multi-tasking features like using the navigation apps simultaneously with your music application which now will also feature Album Art – something for us pedantic users.
Below is Spotify on the New Android Auto and Apple CarPlay.
I think for the time being, I will probably opt to use more of Android simply the redesign has not only upgraded the platform but made smartphone integration so much better and it feels like most reviewers will have now have to say “…. now with Android Auto and CarPlay”
Do you use Android Auto, have you switched to the new version, let us know on our social media channels or in the comments below?
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