Google’s attempt to conquer mobile infotainment with Android Auto has been slow going. The initial roll out of the app limited Android Auto to certain model cars and expensive aftermarket head units, leaving the app out of reach for many potential users.
However, just last week Google announced that a major update to Android Auto would overhaul the entire interface. This new version of the app no longer requires a compatible head unit, instead relying solely on your smartphone. This means that Android Auto now works with any car as long as you have a phone running Android 5.0 or later.
It was developed to provide an intuitive interface to stay connected without compromising safety on the road. Google Maps, voice calling, messaging and music control have proven to work very well. With this new update bringing hands-free navigation, communication and entertainment to the automotive masses, we can expect developers to ramp up support for Android Auto. But what can you get your hands on right now?
Google has limited the selection of apps available for Android Auto, as they undergo a rigorous testing process. This is to ensure that the apps do not impact driver safety while in use. As a result, the pickings are pretty slim. Most of the apps available focus on playback of media within the car, but we’re confident they’ll make your next trip much more enjoyable.
Do you like to read but find turning pages with one hand on your steering wheel to be a hassle? Lucky for you, Android Auto allows you to keep both hands on the wheel while apps read to you. Amazon’s Audible service boasts a large collection of audiobooks due to its compatibility with Amazon’s ebook library. In addition, books available on Audible can be downloaded to your device to enable offline listening.
OverDrive allows you to borrow audiobooks for on-the-road listening at no charge, featuring a selection cultivated from over 30,000 libraries around the world. The best part is you never have to worry about late fees as titles are automatically returned.
Two of the most popular music streaming apps are officially supported by Android Auto. Pandora allows users to create their own personalized radio stations that play nothing but their favorite tunes 24/7. Spotify aims to introduce music fans to new artists and songs by cultivating playlists based on a user’s mood or current favorites.
Two of the most popular communication services available, WhatsApp and Skype, boast Android Auto integration. Received messages are read aloud to you, and voice commands allow hands-free replies. These two are far from the only messaging apps supporting Android Auto, so be sure to check out the full list.
Pocket Casts/Podcast Player
Are you a fan of podcasts? If the answer is yes, you’ll be happy to know that two of the best podcast apps available are available for Android Auto. Pocket Casts and Podcast Player are both well-designed apps that allow synchronization across multiple devices. They also give the user the ability to automate episode downloads and removal. Podcast Player is free, whereas Pocket Casts costs $3.99. Pocket Casts does offer some more advanced features, but we recommend trying out Podcast Player first, as it will be sufficient for most.
MLB at Bat
There are approximately 2,430 games during the regular Major League Baseball season. Even if you only follow one particular team, that’s still 162 games a year. The MLB at Bat app allows baseball fans to listen to highlights while trekking around town. The app has a slew of other features available for a price.
Have we missed any of your favorite Android Auto apps? Which ones do you recommend? Are you using Android Auto? What are your favorite features? Let us know in the comments!