Google Inc.’s Android Auto software no longer requires a new car or stereo, as the company Monday announced a new version that will run as a smartphone app.
The software, first launched in 2014, provides a streamlined navigation and phone interface that had previously synced with an Android phone on a car dashboard. In Google’s words, safety was foremost in its design, with the software providing larger touch targets and voice actions to minimize distraction while a person was driving.
The new app requires a smartphone running Android 5.0 or higher to run and delivers the same look and interface as the in-car version it is derived from, including sections for making calls, obtaining directions, playing music and obtaining the latest weather information.
In an interesting twist, the app can also be set to start automatically when paired with Bluetooth. In coming weeks, users will also be able to utilize the “OK Google” command, which comes as standard with later-model Android smartphones to to use Auto.
First impressions: For accessing services while driving, it works really well, since essentially all it provides is an overlay of larger buttons to easily access services, such as playing music or making a phone call. Long-term users of Google Maps navigation will not notice much of a difference other than that Android Auto delivers the ability to quickly access other features from the same screen the map appears on.
Google says that the new version of Android Auto will be rolling out in the Google Play store in the coming days, but for now the old app, which provides syncing functionality between a phone and Google Auto in-car device, was the only one available outside of the United States. If you don’t want to wait to try it out, a copy of the new release is available on from APK Mirror via this link.