Starting today, car buyers have the option to purchase a car–specifically, a 2015 Hyundai Sonata–with Android built right in. Android Auto, first announced a year ago, brings the Android interface to a touchscreen in the center of the dashboard. The 2015 Hyundai Sonata is the first production vehicle to get Android Auto.
Dashboard interfaces tend to differ greatly between carmakers, and, compared with the ease with which most of us use our smartphones, they are largely unintuitive and distracting to use. With Android Auto, drivers who use Android smartphones will be able to access Google Maps and other apps, and send and receive texts and calls, all through a familiar operating system. To use Android Auto, a driver must plug his or her Android phone into the car’s USB port.
You can read hands-on reviews of Android Auto over at Engadget and The Wall Street Journal. According to the Engadget reviewer, the Android Auto navigation and voice control systems worked smoothly, but the screen did not always display the appropriate song information from Google Play Music and Spotify.
Joanna Stern, who wrote a glowing review of the interface for the WSJ , reported that the text-messaging function could be dangerously distracting to drivers. “I’m convinced this is the safest way to drive with your smartphone, at least with maps and music. But I have considerable safety doubts about Android Auto’s text-message integration,” Stern wrote. “I got a rash of text messages from my sister and had to force myself not to tap the screen. If my phone were stashed in my bag, I would have just waited.” According to Stern, Google is taking into consideration her suggestion that drivers be given the option to disable text messaging.
While Android Auto is only available in the Hyundai Sonata for now, 27 other carmakers have said they will integrate the platform into new vehicles soon. Apple has also tackled in-car screens with its CarPlay platform, which is rolling out in 2015 models of Hyundai, Ferrari, Mercedes-Benz, and Volvo, according to Tom’s Guide, which published a helpful FAQ about CarPlay last month. Like Android Auto, Apple CarPlay works with the driver’s smartphone to bring navigation, music, and messaging to the dashboard. According to Tom’s Guide, nearly every carmaker that has announced support for CarPlay has also pledged to support Android Auto.