Introduced at the search company’s ‘I/O’ developer conference, Android Auto represents the production version of the interface project that has been under development through the Open Automotive Alliance with help from automakers and Nvidia.
Users will be able to connect their Android smartphone to the vehicle’s infotainment hardware. The projected interface provides access to Google Maps, voice search, Google Now reminders and streaming or local audio content, all from an interface that has been simplified and optimized for use by a driver.
“This is accessible through your car’s controls, and more importantly, is far safer than fumbling around with your phone,” Google says.
Drivers can choose to find a destination via Google Maps on their smartphone before entering the vehicle. The system seamlessly switches to turn-by-turn directions on the infotainment display when the phone is connected.
Google believes its voice-recognition technology is ready for vehicle integration, allowing drivers to control the Android Auto features without fumbling with the infotainment touchscreen.
Both Android Auto and Apple’s CarPlay are taking a similar approach to smartphone integration, focusing on universal compatibility among supported vehicles. The technologies essentially projects the optimized interface from the smartphone, enabling features to be added or bugs to be quickly fixed — without requiring the vehicle to be brought in to a dealer’s service shop for a software update.
With similar basic features from CarPlay and Android Auto, Google will be hoping its maps prowess will give it an edge in the automotive market. Luckily for vehicle buyers, most major automakers will likely support both platforms to avoid losing sales over incompatibility with the buyer’s preferred smartphone.
Google suggests Android Auto will begin arriving in production vehicles later this year.