Google has made a major announcement this morning which will be of interest to any Android user who drives a car, or who even passengers in a car. Android Auto used to require a compatible car head-unit, which your Android could connect to in order to display a custom interface for use while on the road.
Android Auto 2.0 introduces a much-requested feature to allow you to use Android Auto stand-alone, on any compatible phone, without needing anything further. That’s right. Android Auto now works on your phone, in any car, or even not in a car. You can use it wherever you want. In a car. In the back seat of a taxi. As a passenger. You could probably even use it in a boat.
Some of the key features in Android Auto that you’ll be able to use stand-alone (or with a compatible head unit, if you have one) include bringing your music with you with apps like Spotify, Pandora or Google Play Music, and make/receive calls using an oversized interface, as well as turn-by-turn directions to your next destination with Google Maps.
Detection of ‘OK Google’ commands is coming soon, according to Google, and should be ready in “coming weeks”.
For stand-alone users, you can set the ability to automatically start Android Auto on your phone when paired to a particular Bluetooth device; for example if — like me — your work car has a Bluetooth head-unit, you can set Android Auto to start when it detects the car, so it’s almost as good as having a proper Android Auto head unit. This might not sound like much, but I can tell you I am super excited about this.
Logitech are also working on a special SmartCar mount, which should be coming to the Google Store and other retail locations soon.
Another oft-requested feature is hands-free voice commands. Instead of having to press a voice activation button, you’ll be able to simply start Android Auto’s voice interaction with the familiar “Ok Google” command. Something I can’t wait to be able to use instead of having to fumble with a button, or taking my eyes off the road to press an on-screen icon.
The new update is rolling out at the moment via Google Play, but if you simply can’t wait — like me — you can grab the APK thanks to Artem and his merry band of men at APK Mirror.