First look: Android Auto from Audi, Chevy, Honda and more [VIDEO]

While you won’t be able to get behind the wheel of an Android Auto-equipped vehicle for quite some time, Phandroid is here to give you the next best thing: an up-close and personal look at Android Auto vehicles from Google I/O. Android Auto is Google’s open platform for vehicles that gives you quick and easy access to a road-centric Android experience.

Whether you’re looking for tunes for your morning commute or need directions for a cross-country trip, Android Auto will deliver it all in a very seamless way. Many of the vehicles you’ll see later this year and beyond will support voice commands so you can control music playback, look up info via Google Search, and control your maps without having to remove your hands from the steering wheel.

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Some of the vehicles will also have media playback controls built into the steering wheel, natch. Of course, you can always do what you need by reaching for the touch-enabled in-dash unit built into the car.

The fact that it’s powered by Google Now, Google Search and the Knowledge Graph engine means the phone can predict what you want and when you want it. For instance, if you happen to go to work at 6am every morning, the car might automatically pull up the directions to your job and some nice music to listen to on the way without you having to do anything. Or perhaps you were searching for good Italian restaurants on your computer before leaving the house — Google Now will know that, and once you get into your car it will ask you if you want to go there.

And just as with Google Now and Search on phones, Android Auto understands contextual conversations. Saying something like “take me to the football stadium” will likely pull up the local professional football stadium in your city and load up the directions without you having to do anything.

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The best part is that all of it can sync with your phone and Google account. When pairing your phone up with the car, the car gets all of its information from your phone, the apps on your phone and the accounts you’re signed in with, which means there’s no clunky login processes you have to deal with. This also means getting new apps for your car is as easy as downloading an app from Google Play to your phone.

Google made it easy for developers to adapt said apps to the in-dash display, with some apps being implemented in just under two weeks according to a spokesperson we discussed with. Beyond that, the Android Auto platform gives developers the freedom to style their applications however they need (so you’ll see Spotify’s icons and green highlights within their music app, for instance).

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Here are just a few of the early apps Google showed off inside Android Auto cars at Google IO this year:

  • MLB At Bat
  • iHeartRadio
  • Spotify
  • Google Play Music
  • Google Search and Google Now
  • Google Maps and Navigation
  • Joyride
  • Pocket Casts
  • Pandora
  • TuneIn Radio
  • Songza

Android Auto doesn’t sound amazing in this day and age, but that’s because it’s simply taking what we already have the ability to do with our phones and tablets and adapting it to a road-safe experience.

That’s all we’re asking for really, and it looks like Google has the right idea when it comes to creating a connected car experience that can do more than just play music and answer phone calls. It certainly gets us excited for 2015 and beyond. Watch the first look video from Google IO above and see if it does the same for you, and have a look at more of the sweet cars that will be equipped with Android Auto in the gallery sitting below.

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  • Hien Nguyen

    What if you’re on country side road-trip and there are no Data connection. Would be be possible to use offline GPS app instead of Google Maps or you’re screwed ?

    • PHL

      There are GPS apps with downloadable maps. You’d lose some functionality, but you should still be able to get to a destination.

  • Hien Nguyen

    What if you’re on countryside roadtrip and there is no Data connection. Would you be able to use offline navigation or you’re pretty much screwed ?

  • Marcos Peña

    I think it’s pretty awesome..

  • Hien Nguyen

    What if you’re on countryside roadtrip and there is no Data connection. Would you be able to use offline navigation or you’re pretty much screwed ?

  • Marcos Peña

    If someone were to come up with sleek kit that will enable this same capability in any car, do you guys it’ll sale?

    The hypothetical kit will be easy to install and have a nice 7″ HD touch screen and would be able to mirror what’s showing here in older cars. The exception would be the cars hardware buttons may not exist in some older vehicles.

  • jfelts

    Is this using mirror mode to display what is on the phone to the screen? With my AppRadio in my truck, I am still losing juice while using mirror mode and having it charging at the same time.

  • godisafairytale

    This is very exciting news. I’d really love to see more apps show up, and some type of multi-window support. Right now Poweramp is one of my favorite music players, and I use Waze and Google Maps back and forth depending on the situation. I have a dashboard mount for my Galaxy phone and I’ll have a map app and music app side by side in Multi Window mode while I drive. When the head unit can do all that without my phone, I’ll be sold.

  • Roaduardo

    What kind of camera was used to record that? Let’s invest in something with quicker focus?

  • http://ENERDROID.COM IAN

    Why would someone need directions to their own job every morning. Cynicism aside I’m stoked for Android in my car someday soon.

    • jaycemiskel

      Maybe not directions, but Google Now can tell you if there’s a wreck or something and you need to take a different way to get there more quickly.

    • No_Nickname90

      It’s useful if you’re living a younger life and always at different friends’ apts and stuff. LoL!!

    • Max

      Because Waze that’s why. It’s not about the directions, it’s about the traffic, police, accident, route change to increase efficiency, etc alerts

  • french toast ghost

    XM radio, you shook?

  • Paul Guy

    I guess I’m not impressed with any of this, it’s just using the car’s screen, buttons, and microphones to control the phone. Everything they showed is already something the phone can do by itself. It’s nice having a bigger screen closer to the windscreen and buttons for hands-free, but if I can’t get at the apps I want for music or maps or whatever (basically, don’t default to Google stuff without having to use hands), this is useless.

    • andrew

      i guess its completely useless, all car makers should just continue to make head units that treat our phones indifferently and offer no compatibility whatsoever between them besides aux ports..

    • No_Nickname90

      Wait, what? The list of apps they showed were just a few. And did you not see that Pandora and iHeartRadio were listed? Those are 2 non-Google apps related to music right there.

      The developers will have to get on board. It’s not going to be just Google only apps.

      I’m confused at what you’re ranting about. =.S

    • Adnoxaei

      My phone can do all these things, except using my phone will driving gets me a $300+ ticket and then my insurance can spike…all while using a more complicated interface that is legitimately dangerous to use while driving. Other states and countries are also becoming increasingly critical of cellphone usage while driving. The US and the EU have already been grumbling about complex car menus, so it wasn’t going to have any great deep crazy menus of options with tiny fonts everywhere. Instead this aims for voice use to ease the safety fears of EU and US officials. This is a nice simple way to integrate with the car and override all the stupid car menus that car manufacturers barf onto the dashboards. App developers can support it if they want, so widely used apps can integrate basic functionality. Take that up with the devs of your favorite apps.

      Just remember that this is for cars and has to be car safe. That means minimal reading, no video, and no heavy interaction. That almost kills video apps, forum apps, internet browsers, games, visual e readers, etc. Maybe they can give you notifications of replies or updates and read them to you, but don’t expect much on that front.

  • Frogskins

    Everyone keeps talking about new cars coming out with this in it…. I would like to hear more about aftermarket car stereo companies that are planning on including this. I want the functionality but don’t want to buy a new car to get it. I would rather just replace my deck. I can do without the button integration even.

    • No_Nickname90

      That’s what I was thinking. Though, I’m sure that you would be able to get an aftermarket radio… Right? LoL!!

    • M0nk

      I just want that someone on xda figures a way to start android auto interface directly on my phone or tablet. I don’t need a new screen. My note 3 screen is perfect and big…
      The only thing in the car i need is what i already have: A stereo with BT for audio, mic and phone calls

    • Caezar07

      FWIW I’ve seen people DIY and install android tablets into their dashboards. If I could I’d dock my nexus 7 into my dashboard.

    • Captain Obvious
  • Caezar07

    Good god this is so cool. I am getting a new car next February and this may convince me to buy new rather than lease used if it’s offerered in a car I like.