Tech InDepth: What is Android Auto and how can you use it?

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Be it streaming music, using navigation apps or having messages read out while you drive, the infotainment system in your car is gradually becoming one of the most in-demand features. Almost all new cars now come with an infotainment system and most support both Android Auto and Apple’s CarPlay. But what exactly are the advantages of Android Auto and how can you access these? In today’s edition of Tech InDepth, we will be looking at what exactly Android Auto is, what makes it useful, and other details.

What is Android Auto? 

Android Auto is a screen-mirroring application that allows you to mirror your phone on a car’s infotainment system as long as it supports Android Auto. Note that all infotainment systems may not necessarily support Android Auto and for the app to work, you will have to make sure your car’s system supports the feature.

If you bought a car in recent years that came with an infotainment system, chances are it already supports Android Auto natively. However, if you have an older car and are planning to add an infotainment system to it, check for Android Auto support for your next car.

How does Android Auto work?

To make Android Auto work, you need to have Android Auto installed on your smartphone. While some Android phones will come with the app pre-installed, others can go to the Play Store on any Android 6.0+ device and install the same.

When in your car, connect the USB output of the car’s infotainment system to your phone via a data cable (ideally, the original one that came with your phone) and you should see a prompt pop up on your phone. Go through the on-screen instructions on your phone to set up Android Auto. These will include giving the app permissions, downloading some sub-applications and similar steps. Once this is done, your car’s infotainment system will begin screening your phone’s apps.

Note that some phones may support Android auto wirelessly and may not need to be connected via a data cable. Check your phone’s settings to see if this is possible on your device.

What can you do with Android Auto? 

Once set up, you will see an Android Auto screen on the car’s display. You can now control the system from here and use the Android Auto app launcher, multi-tasking widget, notification centre and other features straight from your car.  You can now do a number of things like make phone calls using the phone app in the app launcher, which you can also use to check your voice mail.

You can also use Android Auto for turn-by-turn navigation with Google Maps. Select Google Maps from the app launcher and type your desired destination to set a route for it. You will then get a similar navigation experience to your phone.

Android Auto can also be used to listen to music and podcasts with YouTube Music, Spotify or other apps. Simply select these applications from the app launcher and use them as you would on your phone.

You can even use Google Assistant via Android auto and use most of the above features directly by voice. Simply say “Hey Google” and ask the Assistant to help you out with a call, message or playing a song on Spotify as you would on the phone.

Upcoming features

Google also announced at I/O 2022 that it was bringing some changes and new features to Android Auto later this year. This includes a new user interface that will make the most of large screens that many manufacturers are now providing in their cars. This new design will also be adaptive, and will fit itself in screens of all sizes.

Google is also adding a split-screen setup in most apps like Maps, that will also leverage larger screens and open new use-cases, like using your music player, or checking incoming messages, all while your navigation stays in place.





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