Android Auto: A driver’s dream app

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Overview:

Android Auto is an app that enables “driving mode” for your android device, simplifying the UI and granting quick and easy access to music, maps, and phone functions so you’re not distracted swapping apps while driving.

Developer: Google Inc.

Cost: Free

Impressions:

Driving while distracted is very dangerous, no doubt about that. However, life doesn’t stop just because you’re in the car, calls, texts, and tons of other messages on your phone will come through regardless. So, instead of reaching for your phone and fumbling through those apps, endangering yourself and others, use Android Auto instead. Phone calls, GPS, text messages, and music control are all displayed on the app in a simplified and intuitive UI that reduces the time spent looking at the screen and allows you to focus on driving while still being connected to your phone.

Android Auto is probably most popular as a built-in feature on many new cars today, where you just plug in your compatible phone and the car’s infotainment system is converted to Android Auto, with your phone as the car’s UI. Recently, Google has made Android Auto a standalone app on the Play Store, allowing those of us with older cars or those who are unwilling to splurge on a new Android Auto-enabled head unit to gain access to the experience. The app on your phone is identical to the in-car equivalent, with the simple unified UI and voice and touch controls. Auto makes using your phone while driving a dream, allowing you to control phone calls, Google Maps directions and music playback from any app without fumbling with the main app versions. The home screen for Auto provides a “recents” list of calls, locations, and music you were using last, for quick access. The app has three sections for each of the main functions, and a sub-menu for each one for more options in each. It’s an easy to navigate and elegant solution for those of us who juggle multiple apps on long car trips.

Android Auto is also fully voice-controllable, allowing full hands-free control using the familiar “OK, Google” commands. My favorite feature is voice texting; Text messages are read aloud to you, and you can reply using your voice or set a “driving mode” auto response. Speech detection is excellent, as long as you speak clearly, and I’ve had zero issues with my dictated messages so far in my weeks of use. Voice control also works for music playback, simply request an artist or playlist and it’ll queue right up.

There are a few quality-of-life settings in the app that make the transition to Auto really easy, including auto-on for Bluetooth connection so when you connect to your car’s Bluetooth the app will launch. Also, “wi-fi suspend” mode will disable wi-fi while in the car so you don’t have to worry about wasting battery searching for signal. You can also choose to keep the screen always on, so you don’t have to worry about sleep mode during a long trip. These settings make it a rather seamless transition when getting in and out of the car.

Conclusion:

Android Auto is a very solid experience and I’ve had very few problems with it in my time using it. I do wish there was a way to get some more in-depth control of the music app for selecting a specific song in a playlist without having to search through the queue but I suppose that it’s better that I look at the road rather than my phone. Also, Android Auto is really best used with a phone mount in your car, so there is that additional cost for the best experience.

Besides that, Android Auto is an excellent app that I would recommend to everyone for driving. The convenience and added safety it gives you are second to none and if you are a heavy phone user in the car you really can’t afford to not use this app.

Download Android Auto from the Google Play Store