Android Auto is now available for all cars

Alex Kidman 8 November 2016

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Google has opened up its automotive OS to any vehicle via an Android smartphone.

As the name suggests, Android Auto is Google’s take on a car-centric version of Android, focusing on the key tasks that you’d want to perform while driving, such as navigation and music playback. It’s a direct rival to Apple’s CarPlay system, as well as the first-party dashboard systems used by specific car manufacturers (although many of them also offer options for Android Auto or CarPlay systems in their vehicles).

Embedded is the problematic term there, however, as unless you’re buying a car with Android Auto built in, there was no easy way until today to actually experience it in your vehicle. Google has announced that it’s making Android Auto available to anyone with a phone running Android 5.0 or better, which means that everything from a CarPlay-equipped luxury sedan purchased today to that rusty old clanger you’ve been driving for a decade can run Android Auto, at least in theory.

Google says that Android Auto will be rolling out "in the coming days" to over 30 countries, and at the time of writing it appears to be available in Australia, although as is often the case with Android, not every phone will support it. If you can’t find it on a search of your Android 5.0 or better phone, it’s likely that you’re on an unsupported device.

The new update is designed to work with Bluetooth-enabled cars (which probably eliminates your rusty clunker) to automatically start the app when paired, with Google suggesting that interested customers invest in a Bluetooth-enabled car mount in order to use Android Auto. It’s worth remembering in Australia it’s a general requirement of using a smartphone as the driver that it’s placed in a hands-free mount in any case. Also bear in mind that Android Auto’s services rely on a data connection to work, so it may be worth keeping an eye on your data usage to avoid excess data charges.

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