Android Auto - Google Maps, Media & Messaging Review
- Developer: Google LLC
- Size: 19M
- Version: Varies with device
Developed by Google, Android Auto is a next-generation automotive smartphone interface that aims to mirror the features of your Android device to your vehicle’s infotainment system. After its launch in the spring of 2015, the app received a significant update recently, bringing a darker theme, new app launcher layout, and an intuitive UI.
Functionality – 4/5
Connecting your smartphone to Android Auto is easy. Simply install the app on your phone, run it, plug in via USB, and go to your vehicle’s Android Auto screen. Perhaps the most impressive function of the app is Google Maps bringing you real-time traffic information and navigation. With a quick response, the app constantly looks to find an alternate route in case of heavy traffic. It responds to your basic voice commands like “Ok, Google Navigate to” any destination.
The system has access to your recent history, making it possible for you to search for a future destination on your Android device, jump into the car, connect your phone, and find the best route without even asking. Furthermore, Google’s navigation system is generally considered more reliable than the manufacturer’s camera and radio-based data.
Another great function is music streaming, where you can try Google Play Music, Spotify, and Amazon Music. It allows you to demand any track using Google’s cloud-based speech recognition. But the browsing is restrictive mainly for security reasons. You will be able to scroll through a few albums, and a pop up will ask you to stop the car to continue browsing.
It is WhatsApp, Skype, and other third-party apps compatible, but phone access is its weaker point. It is not comprehensive that a typical car-phone interface. Vehicle settings are also not part of the app, so drivers would need to exit Android Auto to select a driving mode, adjust climate controls, etc.
Usability – 3.5/5
In technical terms, Android Auto has been designed to make you touch the screen as little as possible. Practically, this seems redundant as not all icons work in a similar fashion. While third-party apps like Spotify would launch, Google Apps like Calendar will route you back to the Google Assistant. You will end up finishing the task by voice.
But the new layout comes with a huge improvement. You can tap the bell icon at the bottom navigation bar to view the summary of your notifications. The darker screen theme makes it easy for you to glance at a text message, incoming call, or playing bars. Similarly, the music streaming screen is more info-dense now. Overall, the new app looks and feels fresh, but more improvements can be made to its actual functionality Google Assistant. Shortening the number of voice prompts to get the task done would make the app more useful.
Interface – 4/5
The new version has an updated layout, new typeface, notification tab, app launcher, and dark mode. Overall, the app just feels and looks like an Android phone. The app features big, and colorful icons so you would no longer hunt for apps under different tabs. The new version of Android Auto has condensed all icons into the app launcher button at the bottom navigation bar. You will also see the Google Assistant shortcut and a notification bell on the right side of the bar. The latest version offers an intuitive way to use the app.
Platforms – 4/5
While phones with Android 10 come with the built-in app, you can also run Android Auto on devices with Android OS versions 9 or below. For these versions, you need to visit Google Store to download this app separately at no additional cost. This app may not be available for all new cars as the makers use their navigational models, and they would only add this app as a pricey option. However, as consumers insist on using their connected phones, few cars are relying on this app. A few manufacturers have this app built into their systems.
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