Google has announced that Android Auto is ready for consumer use, releasing the Android Auto app to the Google Play Store. It is compatible with three Pioneer in-dash systems so far.
Android Auto was announced by Google at last year's Google I/O and is aimed at rivaling the likes of Apple's CarPlay.
Google has been pushing the use of Android Auto, marketing it as a way to easily control things like music and maps while being able to pay more attention to the road. Things like voice control are an important part of Android Auto.
Android Auto says a lot about the future of the auto industry. Software is set to be an increasingly important part of how cars work and interact with drivers, especially with the increasing focus on electric car technology and the fact that drivers will need to stay aware of how much of a charge their cars have and how far they will be able to get with the power they have left. Tesla's recent announcements have highlighted this.
Android Auto also highlights the need for continuity in software, with the car being no exception. There's no use having access to music if users cannot access their own music libraries. The same goes for things like maps, in which contacts need to be synced across platforms. If users can use their phone as a central hub for information in the car, their lives will be much easier.
This focus on continuity is only set to continue when it comes to the car. Some car manufacturers are beginning to implement data connections into their cars, essentially meaning that in the near future, connections with phones perhaps won't even be needed, as users can simply sync data over the Internet.
Improving the voice control features in Android Auto will be very important going forward. The first step to this will be improving voice recognition, as often Google Now can misunderstand the user. Of course, these improvements will come over time.
Making the range of commands possibly larger will also be important to really help drivers concentrate on driving. Users currently still have to press buttons, so every time the user has to look at the screen, his or her focus could be taken away from driving.
The future of the auto industry certainly looks good, with Google pushing the importance of software through Android Auto.