Android Auto is both a mobile app for Android devices and an interfacing protocol used in the infotainment system of automotive vehicles. It is similar to Apple CarPlay but it specifically allows a smartphone or tablet running on Android operating system to connect to and mirror or cast its content on the display screen of a vehicle. This allows the driver or passenger to access and control certain features of an Android device via the infotainment system of a vehicle.
Pros of Android Auto: Advantages and Notable Features
1. Extends the Functionalities of an Infotainment System
The infotainment systems of modern vehicles have some decent level of capabilities. However, when compared to the features of a smartphone or tablet, these pale in comparison. Some vehicles do not have infotainment systems while others have a limited set of features. One of the main advantages of Android Auto is that it allows access to several Android apps. This translates to access to features that can help in driving and wider entertainment options.
2. Wide Support for a Large Number of Android Apps
Furthermore, when compared to Apple CarPlay, this app and protocol has a larger number of apps that it supports. It supports standard Google apps and services such as Google Maps, Waze, and Google Assistant, as well as the native calling and texting features of an Android device. There is also support for apps from third parties. These include Amazon Music, Spotify, Audible, Telegram, Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, and Sygic GPS Navigation, among others.
3. Promotes Distraction-Free and Convenient Driving
Another notable advantage of Android Auto is that it also has access to the voice recognition capabilities of a particular Android device. This means that the apps or certain functionalities that are casted on the infotainment system can be controlled using voice commands. Examples include answering or making phone calls, sending a text message via speech-to-text, opening a particular application, setting reminders, playing a song, and setting navigation routes.
4. Clean and Intuitive Vehicle-Centric User Interface
The user interface is also another one of the notable strengths of this app and protocol. The introduction of the Cool Walk redesign in 2022 has improved multitasking. The most used apps are displayed on the home screen for quick access. There is also an app drawer that provides access to all supported apps. It also allows access to notifications on the screen. There is also an option to open two apps side-by-side like a Google Map and Spotify or Messenger.
Cons of Android Auto: Disadvantages and Main Issues
1. Does Not Support All Android Apps and Features
One of the notable disadvantages of Android Auto is that it does not run all Android apps installed on a connected Android device nor does it allow access to all features in the same device. It is impossible to stream videos or use social media apps. This is understandable. The developers have limited its functionalities to come up with a user interface that is based on vehicle-centric use cases. It still has a larger number of supported apps than Apple CarPlay.
2. Voice Recognition Performance Can Be Inconsistent
It is true that the user interface and the apps or features can be controlled using voice commands or using Google Assistant. However, in numerous reported situations, the voice recognition features are inconsistent. There are times when the system struggles to understand what the user intends to instruct or misinterpret commands. This can be frustrating and distracting. The quality of voice recognition is also dependent on a particular Android device.
3. Software and Hardware Bugs and Use Experience Issues
There are also several user-reported instances and documented cases from other Android Auto review articles about software and hardware bugs. Take note that most vehicles support wired connections. Some support wireless connection. Nevertheless, regardless of the two, there are cases in which the device fails to connect to a particular infotainment system. Some lags have also been reported that require reestablishing the connection or restarting the system.
4. Incompatible With Some Vehicle and Vehicle Features
Another disadvantage of Android Auto is that it is not universal. Some manufacturers of vehicles have their own operating systems built within their infotainment systems. Examples include Tesla and General Motors. It still has the largest number of automaker support. There are after-market head units that can be installed in old vehicles. Another problem with Android Auto is that it does not access some built-in vehicle features such as cameras and climate control.
Takeaway: Advantages and Disadvantages of Android Auto
Android Auto turns a vehicle into a smarter and safer companion. It is akin to plugging a smart TV console into a conventional TV set to turn it into a smart TV set. This mobile app and interfacing protocol lets drivers navigate hands-free, access important device messaging features, and lets them access and play music or podcasts. However, similar to Apple CarPlay, it is not universal. There are vehicles that do not have support for this protocol. It is also an imperfect software. There are times when voice recognition can fail. Bugs can also interfere with the overall user experience. It remains an ideal solution for owners of Android devices who drive supported vehicles.