Android Auto app arrives alongside Pioneer hardware in US, UK and Australia


Android Auto is finally here. Google’s mobile platform for embedding content like maps, music, etc. from your smartphone to your car’s head unit is now live, as the Android Auto app has officially been uploaded to the Play Store. The new app comes as Google announced via Twitter that Pioneer support for Android Auto is now available in three countries…
For starters, the Android Auto app is free to download from the Play Store starting today. Google is highlighting these features at launch:

Navigation with Google Maps – Free turn-by-turn navigation with lane guidance, live traffic conditions, points of interest, and more.

Hands-Free Phone and Messaging – Make calls and send messages without taking your hands off the wheel

Information & Assistance – Get information about weather, traffic, commuting and more organized into simple maps

Bring Your Music – Listen to your music and playlists in the car with your built-in stereo

The new app doesn’t do much on its own. It’s just the switch we’ve been waiting on Google for in-dash receivers to work. Important Note: Android Auto requires Android 5.0 Lollipop or higher to run, so some devices will not yet be compatible without the latest OS update. Google’s latest data shows that Lollipop runs on around 3.3% of the platform’s active install base.

Then Android Auto will require either a new car that supports the feature or a compatible aftermarket head unit to add support to your existing car. Google today shared that Pioneer’s Android Auto support is now live in the US, UK and Australia, adding that more partners are coming soon.

Pioneer showed off its three aftermarket displays that support Android Auto earlier this year at CES 2015 with models starting at $700 and going up to $1,400. These include the AVH-4100NEX, AVIC-7100NEX and AVIC-8100NEX. Outside the US, Android Auto is supported by Pioneer with these models: AVIC-F77DAB, AVIC-F70DAB, AVH-X8700BT in UK and Australia AVIC-F70DAB, AVH-X8750BT.

Major automakers including Ford, Honda and Chevrolet have pledged support for Android Auto, and aftermarket units from Alpine and Parrot are also planned.

Unlike Apple’s closed CarPlay system, Google allows developers to add Android Auto support to their apps. The company highlighted the Android Auto SDK used to add Android app support today on its developer blog.

For more on Android Auto, check out our hands-on video with the Pioneer Android Auto unit from CES 2015 as well as our direct comparison of Android Auto and Apple CarPlay video.

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Deana N. Guinn