Android Auto is finally ready for consumers. It’s been nine months since Android Auto announced at Google I / O 2014, and today the app has hit Google Play. Android Auto distills the Android operating system into an infotainment operating system that supports maps, music, calls and text in a car friendly interface. Like Apple’s CarPlay, the software runs on the phone and is transmitted to the car screen where it “supports” the touchscreen.
Of course, for this to work, it takes the help of car makers, and compared to the smartphone industry, car makers are moving at a freezing pace. Although there are many manufacturers lined up, no car currently supports Android Auto. However, supposedly a few existing 2015 models might get a firmware update that allows Android Auto streaming.
If you want Android Auto today, you’ll need a Lollipop phone, the app, and a spare head unit. Pioneer’s AVIC-8100NEX, AVIC-7100NEX and AVH-4100NEX appear to be the only compatible devices currently. They range from $ 700 to $ 1,400 and require you to tear off your current radio and replace it.
Without some sort of hardware, the app doesn’t do much. Starting it opens the first page of the setup screen, which asks you to connect to a car … and that’s it. Tap the top illustration multiple times to activate Developer Mode, which is a menu filled with debugging settings. Cars with the built-in functionality are expected to be released this year.