Google launched Android Auto just year and a half in the Google I/o 2014. The idea of Google is to conquer a land where car makers fail to make the cut, vehicle entertainment system.
We have had opportunity to test thoroughly Android Auto in a Volkswagen Passat, which has its own system of entertainment, Mirrorlink and CarPlay, equivalent to Apple’s Android Auto system. At Engadget, they explained how so many systems in a single car but today here we will focus what is Android Auto and our impressions.
What is Android car?
Though many call it the operating system for the car really is a projection of our mobile touch screen on the dashboard. The system is not independent without our terminal.
I will start to operate, we will have to connect your phone with a standard USB cable (same as which we use in boots) to the car. Depending on whether the entertainment unit is integrated in the vehicle or is a later added the location of the USB port to which you connect the phone is more or less comfortable.
It is projected is not directly the mobile screen, but a special application which is interface with us. The screen must be tactile but there are voice commands.
When connecting for the first time our terminal to your vehicle entertainment system, this will recognize our mobile. If we don’t have the application of Google Auto in our phone is installed It will ask if we want to do it. The best thing here is to bring it installed home usually in the car there is no wifi, and you will have to download it if you want to continue by the mobile network.
The first limitation that we have is that that Android Auto works our version of Android should be 5.0 or higher. If we have a mobile which is not yet a Lollipop, then Android Auto is not for us.
Helmets music key allows us to make open music applications installed on our phone have compatibility with Android Auto, as Google Play Music or Spotify
After installing the application, it will ask you to follow a few simple steps. This should be done with the stopped car, if we move automatically and by security will not let us continue.
The process is very simple and in a couple of minutes is all set. Now whenever you connect the mobile to the car we will be shown on the mobile the Android Auto logo and screen entertainment system will be our way to interact.
Google Now, Google Maps, calls and music; all controlled by voice
What we see just what to connect the phone to the car? The home screen, which is Google Now. If before leaving home we have searched an address in Google Maps will surely offer us to the navigation with a unique touch to the site. If we have any WhatsApp without reading we will be shown there (in a touch can answer that we will drive). Time and anything else displayed on this screen. To return here at any time simply press the circle at the bottom.
At the bottom there are other buttons. One is an arrow, which indicates to Google Maps. There we have loaded the navigation or simply will show us the map of where we are. The management is very similar to the navigation of Google Maps on your mobile.
Also at the bottom we have the symbol of a phone, where you can access our agenda and make calls hands-free system. Very simple and intuitive.
We also have the key of the helmets of music, which allows us to open music applications installed on our phone that have compatibility with Android Auto, as Google Play Music or Spotify. These applications have some limitations for safety, for example, Spotify does not allow search (only things that we have in the menu of our music and not even everything so that we do not do long scroll).
Finally there is a button to exit the system Android car and return to the car entertainment system (imagine that this will not be available on systems that are exclusively Android Auto).
The interface provides lyrics and large buttons and the possibility of making voice commands by touching the button of the microphone on the screen or by clicking the command button voice that there are on the steering wheel (again, for cars with integrated Android Auto).
¿How are read and answered a WhatsApp (or any messaging application that supports Android Auto)? When it comes to us a WhatsApp will appear a notification at the top (to mobile) and also is registered in the main menu (where cards are Google Now). If you press there Android Auto will read us the message and will allow us to respond to the message. There is no way to view the messages on screen or respond with a keyboard (with the exception of sending a response saying that we are driving from the screen of Google Now).
Android Auto, some disappointment
I must admit that was quite excited with Android Auto. As in the mobile phones had horrendous interfaces and little usable until iOS and Android arrived, he hoped entertainment systems to improve with the arrival of Android. And however missing Android Auto still quite.
First and most obvious is that it is uncomfortable to use. You must connect the phone to a cable to be used. Do you have Bluetooth? It is essential that becomes a routine remove the mobile and connect it to the car whenever we went. It seems to me to be uncomfortable.
It is much cheaper than a native manufacturers entertainment system and provides good features although it must evolve
Second, the interface is too fixed, inflexible. It is Google Now, Google Maps, music and that’s it. How to treat the messaging is very uncomfortable (I’ve tried to follow WhatsApp talks and it is impossible). Issue voice directions may be fine when you are driving but when you are standing a keyboard is more comfortable… that does not exist. Speech recognition is not so powerful to be able to dispense with the keyboard (which curiously is present if we want to dial a phone, when just a phone number is something relatively simple to dictate).
Also he found it curious that Pocket Cast, that Android Auto, supported in principle does not appear in the music menu. After several messages exchanged with the developers failure has been fixed in the latest update, but not just to find the problem because in simulators Yes it worked. Pocket Cast people were surprised to see that I went back to work in the latest version.
The worst thing is that after using Android Auto time I was much more comfortable native Volkswagen entertainment system. It has a decent GPS with connection to Internet via Bluetooth to acquire traffic information (although there is winning over Google Maps); to write directions there is a keypad touch screen which is predictive; playing music directly from the phone via Bluetooth is impeccable; and has some additions that are disabled when you walk into Android Auto mode, as the representation of the map on the display of the speed controls or that can be connected by Bluetooth to several mobile. It is true, these are disadvantages of the concrete integration of Volkswagen with Android car but I have a feeling that is going to be similar with other manufacturers.
My conclusion to all this is that in a car in which Android Auto is one additive more native manufacturer entertainment system is perhaps better, are quite moving. More complicated is the GPS, Google Maps is still unbeatable and more on traffic conditions.
In the case of a radio CD in the drive and probably want something more advanced Android Auto is a good idea. It is much cheaper than a native manufacturers entertainment system and provides good features although it must evolve.
Where should you evolve a Android car?
I think that Android Auto has a good chance but have to evolve quite. The base is clear, the GPS navigation system that is the best thing on the market and have it on a screen in the vehicle is very comfortable.
First thing Google should do is allow customizing the Android Auto user through the application of mobile (now if you open it without being connected to a car only there is a guide and a link to Google Play compatible applications). I can think of several customizations: show or not to show certain applications in its music, put some cards fixed at Google Now (for example, guided home) and even Open the system to applications that are not music.
The second that you should Google It is to improve the part of instant messaging. That it is only by voice is a nuisance. For example, if the car is stopped you should let us answer with a keyboard. Now if we stand we cannot either in the car or on your mobile phone if not unplug it (when we have it plugged in to the car don’t have access to the launcher but it is possible to open applications by pressing button multitasking).
And third, keyboard should appear on screen, as well as when you are standing as if Copilot wants to put an address on the screen. In native systems of manufacturers so and works better than the voice commands that you do not always understand.
If Android Auto is evolving in that direction predict you a good future, but at the moment is something Green. We hope to go in the right direction because the sector a was you need and brands are putting the batteries.