Most cars with embedded displays on their dashboard often have a clunky and unsophisticated user interface that makes phone syncing and integration a chore. That's why dedicated car user interface such as Google's Android Auto comes as a deft recourse to those desiring for a much better user experience than a lackluster car interface.
To get Android Auto means that you have to either get a new car that supports it or get a brand-new head unit, and those aren't exactly cheap. Good head units often hover around the thousand mark, and some only feature Apple's CarPlay.
You Can Now Download Android Auto On Your Phone
Fortunately, Google is honoring its word when it promised in May that users will be able to use Android Auto as a stand-alone app on their smartphone, mirroring the same features displayed on a car's dash. You can now download the Android Auto app on your phone from the Google Play Store.
After downloading the app, you'll go through the process of managing permissions such as calls or messages so the app can play those back for you. Once it's all set up, it'll look astoundingly familiar with the Android Auto interface found in head units, so car owners with previous Android Auto experience shouldn't stumble at all with the app version.
What You Can Do With Android Auto
For the uninitiated, Android Auto is Google's dedicated infotainment user interface for vehicles. It brings features over to your dashboard that you might find useful while driving such as music controls, messaging and, most importantly, directions.
Now that Android Auto has replicated itself onto your smartphone, you can control the music with the device or have access to one-tap directions you've recently looked up. While the smartphone version is virtually similar to the dashboard, Google wants you to avoid accidents while on the road. For some features such as the music app, you won't be able to scour through your entire music library in order to keep your focus on the road.
Other cards on the app will give you access to the weather, calls and recent messages you have received. You can't respond via typing or even read these messages, however, but Google can read them to you, which is probably best to keep your eyes on the road.
For incoming calls, the app will display a caller ID with sizable buttons for you to answer or let it go to voicemail. Auto replies are, of course, available alongside voice responses. There are a few more shortcuts available inside the app along with a few customization options. You can set up the phone to automatically start the app when connected to the car or prevent the screen from auto-locking while you drive.
Google is definitely keen on bringing its software onto vehicles, especially now that you won't need an expensive new car in order to do such. Google first announced Android Auto at Google I/O 2014 and was first made available in May 2015. In April this year, Google pushed out Android auto to 18 more countries, including some of the world's ballooning auto markets such as Russia, India and Brazil.