Google has this morning kicked off their Android Auto initiative with avengance, announcing the arrrival of their Android Auto app in Google Play, as well as announcing the first Android Auto head units. The first head units will be from Pioneer, and the good news is that Australia is in the first wave of countries to receive the units.
Google first announced Android Auto back at Google I/O last year. The Android Auto protocol ‘casts’ information to the head unit which is displayed in a simplistic manner, designed to keep your eye on the road and have minimal interaction with the phone.
Pioneer is the first partner to have third-party units available, but Android Auto is expected to arrive in new cars over the next year or two, with over 20 car manufacturers including Ford, Mazda and more who signed on though the Open Automotive Alliance to supply cars with Android Auto running on their entertainment systems.
three two head units which are Android Auto compatible in Australia: AVIC-8100NEX, AVIC-7100NEX, and AVH-4100NEX AVIC-F70DAB and AVH-X8750BT (Thanks Jeni). At this stage the Pioneer Australia website doesn’t list either of these units, but you can certainly view them on the Pioneer US site. Pricing for the head units – which can be purchased through Amazon in the US – ranges in price from US$700 – US$1400.
With hardware, you will of course need software and Google has launched the Android Auto official app on Google Play. The app is ready to install from Google Play and offers integrated navigation including turn-by-turn directions, hands free phone calls and messaging as well as obviously (for a car stereo) music playback, It also offers information and assistance.
One of the key features of Android Auto is the ability to communicate with Android Auto through the use of Voice Commands. Voice Commands are used to minimise the interaction with the stereo and phone – hence keeping your hands on the wheel and eyes on the road. Outside the US, the success rate of voice commands is fairly hit and miss, but we look forward to seeing how well it works in practice.
We will be following up with Pioneer Australia this morning for further information on availability of Android Auto head units, so stay tuned.