The launch of Android Auto, an extension of the Android OS that will allow users to extend their digital ecosystem into their cars, was announced at the Google I/O developer's conference last week.

Android Auto will help drivers stay connected to their virtual and digital worlds while maintaining focus on driving and safety.

Google stressed that their main priority in designing the user interface was to never create a scenario in which the in-car experience with Android Auto would never interfere with the driver's primary task, which is safe operation of the vehicle.

Android Auto will port existing Android smartphone and tablet apps through the car's infotainment system. Operation is designed to be seamless, driven by simple voice or touch commands, with features duplicated exactly from the apps for easy familiarity and quick access. Google Maps, Google Search and Google Play Music will all include voice activation features, for example.

The Android Auto experience is meant to be glanceable and simple - optimizing interactions to require less thinking. App feature sets will be reduced to only those that are driver safety-appropriate. Android Auto will also be predictive, yet predictable - it will keep the driver informed about important details and situations during the drive, but keep associated functions predictable and only supply data when relevant. Maintaining connection with the user's personal ecosystem of apps and services is another important cornerstone of Android Auto - it promotes an ongoing and consistent experience from phone to car to other devices. The user's music, destinations and digital ecosystem are always at hand to improve the driving environment. Natural integration with the vehicle is another intended design standard for Android Auto - it blends the user's mobile apps with the screens, controls and capabilities of any vehicle so that it feels like an integral part of the car's design and ergonomics.

Connection between Android device and Android Auto will be via a microUSB cable. The lack of wireless connectivity is somewhat of a disappointment, but other vehicle functions not part of Android Auto will still be accessible through Bluetooth in some vehicles.

Google believes that making Android Auto a fully productive and safe to use product requires keeping app access restricted, for the time being, to a limited set of Android apps. The company is doing this in order to maintain control over the user interface and ensure consistency of operation and appearance across a broad range of Android devices. Another reason is to help Google manage the software updating process, with the goal of making it automatic and seamless.

There are already 28 car manufacturers that have committed to including Android Auto in their new models.

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