Android Auto was initially launched for newer cars with smart in-car displays. This allows you to drive while staying connected by hooking your phone to your in-car entertainment system. To expand its use to all vehicles, they have finally made Android Auto available on your Android smartphone.
Android Auto for the phone works like HTC’s Car app. It features big buttons and fonts for easy operation while driving. Focusing on essential applications, you get your navigation that runs on Google Maps, telephony features, music controls and notifications. Waze is reported to be coming to Android Auto very soon.
While driving, you can receive notifications from instant messaging apps like WhatsApp however it won’t show the full text on screen. Instead, you can get Android Auto to read out the message through the speaker and you can reply using your own voice. From our short test, it does playback rather well but replying can be a hit and miss when your environment is noisy.
Obviously getting to your destination is your number 1 priority. When you’ve set a route, any driving alerts will be prominent, taking almost half of your screen while on Android Auto. This prevents any unwanted messaging or social alerts from blocking your next step of your trip. Since we have tricky junctions on Malaysian roads, we highly recommend having Google Maps in view for a clearer visual.
In terms of music, Android Auto supports a variety of players including Spotify. You can use voice control to play a specific song without having to browse on your phone. You can also control your music from the home screen which also displays your current navigation and notification alerts.
Overall, Android Auto is a nice interface for the driver in mind but we reckon most Malaysians will prefer to use their phones the usual way. The inability to read and reply messages by text can be annoying for some but hey, you shouldn’t be holding your phone in the first place. Your hands should be on the wheel while your phone should be secured using a proper phone holder. For a better experience, it is recommended to hook up your phone to your car stereo by bluetooth or AUX cable. It is also smart enough to launch Android Auto the moment it pairs with your car’s Bluetooth stereo.