Google takes to the road with Android Auto

Android users rejoice! From today, you can finally download the Android Auto app to your mobile device – providing it’s running Android 5 Lollipop, that is.

Android Auto, which was first announced at the Google I/O conference in June last year, is Google’s answer to Apple CarPlay, letting users control certain functions on their Android smartphone or tablet, like calling, SMS and music, via their car’s infotainment system or head unit, and letting them use Google Maps for navigation.

So far, so handy, but there is one little hitch. Not only is the Android Auto app compatible with just 3.3% of Android devices in circulation, unlike CarPlay, it’s not compatible with any inbuilt systems right now either.

This leaves Android-using petrol heads with two options: Google has a substantial list of partners lined up who will be baking Android Auto into their car at some point in the future, including Alfa Romeo, Fiat, Honda and Volkswagen group, so you could hold off buying your next car until one of the companies releases a compatible vehicle.

Alternatively, if you can’t wait that long, you can buy one of Pioneer’s three compatible head units and get someone to install it for you. While they cost upwards of £700, you will get to use system straight away and it’s cheaper than buying a totally new car. The choice is yours.

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