Android Auto has been around since 2015 but now that it’s being pre-loaded onto Android 10 devices, it’s about to get a whole lot more popular. Here’s what it does and whether you need to download it.
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What is Android Auto?
As explained on the Google blog, Android Auto is an app with the purpose of making your vehicle voice-activation compatible. That means you’ll be able to reply to messages and change songs all without using your hands as you drive.
But it does this in an interesting way. Once your phone’s connected to a compatible car’s smart screen, it will offer a familiar Android interface allowing you to pull up Google Maps or Maze, play music through Spotify or YouTube and look at your calendar or call log.
It’s pretty nifty given every car has it’s own display, which makes things convoluted. This helps to give you an intuitive interface with minimal set-up struggles.
How to set up Android Auto
To get started, you’ll need to first download the Android Auto app from the Google Play Store if you don’t yet have Android 10. Open it up, hit Get Started and give the app access to all the relevant functions on your phone. Once that’s set up, you can head into Settings and customise what you’d like the app to do for you. That could include locking the phone while driving, showing app notifications, which apps can plug into it, auto-reply options and ‘Ok Google’ detection.
If you don’t have a smart screen in your car (I feel you) or it’s not compatible, you can use most of the features within the app and just prop it up on your dashboard to keep it hands-free.
Is it worth using?
So, is it worth using at all? Considering Google Maps already has voice-activation features, it’s not particularly groundbreaking or going to offer you a new feature altogether.
It’s really about pooling it all into a single interface to make it less tempting to touch your phone while driving (which is illegal if you needed a friendly reminder.)
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Think of it as sort of like a Google Home for the car. You can catch up on the news, listen and reply to messages, and search and change music all with voice activation. That makes it worth the few minutes it takes to download it and set it all up.
Can you use Android Auto on a Provisional licence?
Just remember, most states have laws preventing provisional licence holders from using their phone at all. In NSW, for example, P1 and P2 drivers aren’t able to use devices at all, including hands-free or on loudspeaker. That means using Android Auto is illegal and you’ll need a passenger to help direct you.
It’s important to double check your state’s rules before you take the app for a spin.
This article has been updated since it original publication.