Cars emerge as the top choice for a large number of travellers and tech companies are doing everything possible to improve that experience. While vehicle to vehicle communication systems and driverless cars are still a few years away, plenty of interesting technologies are fast entering our car cabins. Google announced the Android Auto to compete against Apple’s CarPlay. It was launched in few countries and now Google is officially rolling it out to 18 new countries including India.
While at first look, it just appears to be a fancy familiar interface for your in-car infotainment system, it is lot more than that. For starters, it brings almost everything you need from your phone to your car’s touchscreen. All you need to do is connect your device to your car and it automatically pulls up useful information organised in simple cards that appear just when they are needed. Along with that, there are the obvious features like Google Maps, Google Play Music, voice calls and access to your apps like TuneIn Radio and Audible.
Travelling to new places means that you will be looking for directions on your GPS device. Most car makers provide navigation systems but they don’t have maps as detailed or interfaces as simple, which means they are rarely as good as Google Maps. Along with that, you also get the excellent voice search which has already learned a lot about how you speak and can do the job of calling people or navigating to places much better than any current infotainment system making the process less frustrating for the user.
Another advantage is the data. Google Now keeps learning about your behaviour and surprises you by using it in different ways. Booked a ticket to a museum? Your car will know the address when you start. It will know the places you visit often and will always have an update on traffic situation.
Of course with more apps coming for Android Auto, the possibilities are endless. Imagine having a local discovery app which will keep telling you about interesting places you can visit on your route or an app that will suggest petrol stations depending on your driving range. Trip planning services could find even more relevance with the system.
As more manufacturers adopt the system, it could also improve the experience for travellers who rent self-drive cars. Even the car geeks take a while getting accustomed to the controls and features of a different car, however Android Auto will be able to standardise a significant fraction of them. On top of that, you will be able to carry your data to every car running Android Auto which means you don’t have to manually set the GPS or enter your home address even in a rented car.
A large number of manufacturers have already joined the pack to include Android Auto in their cars and we will see many compatible cars coming out soon. Pioneer and Kenwood have introduced head units compatible with Android Auto for those looking to retrofit their current cars with the same.