Google Wades Carefully Into Connected-Vehicle Waters With Android Auto

Cameron Aubernon
by Cameron Aubernon

Though Google’s Android OS may be awash with numerous apps, Android Auto goes for a more limited approach in the name of traffic safety.

Appearing in the showrooms of Hyundai, Chevrolet, Volkswagen, and other automakers this summer, Android Auto will only have 35 apps available for the time being, Automotive News reports. The limitation is part of Google’s effort to carefully enter the realm of connected-vehicle technology, especially when it comes to minimizing distraction while on the road.

Thus, Google’s finest minds have created templates to which third-party apps must adhere, with streaming audio apps Audible, Pandora and Spotify, as well as messaging apps WhatsApp, WeChat and Telegram all pass with flying colors. The templates use a common button layout and a new common typeface called Roboto, both intended to minimize constant learning of new apps via standardized controls, thus preventing distractions in so doing.

While Google is moving steadily into the water, automakers are doing the same with Android Auto. Audi in particular has tested over 10 exclusive apps since early 2014, including ones which would track traffic history and help off-roaders tackle obstacles in the next-gen Q7. Thus far, none are ready for prime time. Meanwhile, Hyundai is first out of the gate with the connected-vehicle system aboard the 2015 Sonata, with the first models and over-the-air updates coming this month.

[Photo credit: Chevrolet]

Cameron Aubernon
Cameron Aubernon

Seattle-based writer, blogger, and photographer for many a publication. Born in Louisville. Raised in Kansas. Where I lay my head is home.

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  • Golden2husky Golden2husky on Jun 08, 2015

    WAZE needs to be available too.

  • Ihatejalops Ihatejalops on Jun 08, 2015

    I find it funny that car companies have spent millions developing software systems, to only switch to the thing they should have used in the first place. I mean apple and google spent billions on developing simple UX and UI so it makes only sense to piggy back off their hard work. Also cheaper.

  • Nickoo Nickoo on Jun 08, 2015

    All cars should do is clone the phone. Have a cheap-ass tablet mirror the phone output. I've seen people retrofit them into dashboards and it is definitely the way to go!

  • Veee8 Veee8 on Jun 09, 2015

    "including ones which would track traffic history and help off-roaders tackle obstacles in the next-gen Q7." Really, a Q7 off-road? Maybe a pot hole filled side street after a trip back from Tommy Bahamas or Whole Foods but off road, that's a stretch.

    • Brettc Brettc on Jun 09, 2015

      That's what I thought. No one is purposefully taking a Q7 off road unless the soccer mommy drives into a ditch while she's distracted.