|Initial release||March 19, 2015|
|Operating system||Android 5.0+ ("Lollipop")|
Android Auto is a mobile app developed by Google that allows enhanced use of an Android device within a vehicle equipped with a compatible head unit. The arrangement enables the Android device, especially a smartphone, to broadcast a simple, driver-friendly user interface onto the vehicle's touchscreen, leveraging the latest, most powerful phones and their readily updatable applications to the vehicle — including GPS mapping/navigation, music playback, SMS, telephony, and web search.
The Android apps are projected onto the in-car display using visually consistent graphics, after the phone has been plugged in to the car via USB. Google anticipates that both touchscreen and button-controlled head unit displays will be supported, although hands-free operation through voice commands is encouraged to minimize driving distraction.
Android Auto is part of the Open Automotive Alliance, which was announced in 2014, and is a joint effort with 28 automobile manufacturers and mobile tech supplier Nvidia. Android Auto was announced at Google I/O 2014, and the Android Auto app was released on 19 March 2015.
The most common way Android Auto is deployed is via an Android mobile device running the Android Auto app, acting as a slave to a vehicle's dashboard head unit, which supports this app. The user's Android device is then connected to the vehicle via USB cable, which will allow the head unit to serve as an external display for the Android device, which will present the supported software in a car-specific user interface provided by the Android Auto app. Alternatively, the Android Auto app can be run as a regular app in an Android device, i.e., not tethered to a car's head unit, which allows for its usage on Android-powered car radios, or simply on the user's personal phone or tablet in the vehicle.
Several functions are supported:
An Android Auto software development kit (SDK) has been released, allowing third parties to modify their apps to work with Android Auto; Initially, only APIs for music and messaging apps will be available.
With Android Auto, a driver's mobile device will have access to several of the automobile's sensors and inputs, such as GPS and high-quality GPS antennas, steering-wheel mounted buttons, the sound system, directional speakers, directional microphones, wheel speed, compass, mobile antennas. Also there's partial access to car data, a feature still under development.
In May 2015, Hyundai became the first manufacturer to offer Android Auto support, making it available first in the 2015 Hyundai Sonata. Automobile manufacturers that will be offering Android Auto support in their cars include Abarth, Acura, Alfa Romeo, Audi, Bentley, Cadillac, Chevrolet, Chrysler, Dodge, Fiat, Ford, GMC, Honda, Hyundai, Infiniti, Jaguar Land Rover, Jeep, Kia, Lamborghini, Lexus, Lincoln, Mahindra and Mahindra, Maserati, Mazda, Mercedes-Benz, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Opel, RAM, Renault, SEAT, Škoda, Subaru, Suzuki, Tata Motors Cars, Volkswagen and Volvo. While the official Android Auto website does list most car manufacturers as supporting Android Auto, many vehicles which are released for the 2015 and 2016 model years do not officially support it just yet. The following models are available with Android Auto support:
Many other models are now equipped with Android Auto support. To see a complete list of manufactures and Google Auto vehicles, visit Google's website.
Several aftermarket car audio systems have also been released that support Android Auto, allowing for the incorporation of the technology into pre-existing vehicles. Manufacturers include Pioneer, Kenwood, Panasonic and Sony.
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