Android Auto Has Arrived


Google officially released the Android Auto app to the Play Store today.  This announcement comes nearly simultaneously with Pioneer beginning support in the US, UK, and Australia for their Android Auto compatible head units introduced at CES 2015.  The app download by itself will not get you Android Auto integration, rather you will need to download the app and then purchase either a new car (compatible with Android Auto) or a aftermarket head unit.  The main features highlighted by Google in the Play Store are:

Navigation with Google Maps – Free turn-by-turn navigation with lane guidance, live traffic conditions, points of interest, and more
Hands-free phone and messaging – Make calls and send messages without taking your hands off the wheel
Info and assistance – Get weather, traffic, commute information and more organized into simple cards
Bring your music – Listen to your music and playlists in the car with your built-in stereo system
You should take note that in order to use Android Auto your phone will need to be on Android 5.0 or above, so if you haven’t received Lollipop yet it is best to wait it out.  This severely limits the availability of Android Auto since the latest data from Google show that Lollipop is running on just about 3.3% of all Android devices.  If you do have Lollipop and are in the US, UK, or Australia you have the opportunity to spend a decent chunk of change to get Android Auto in your existing ride.
The only currently available options for an Android Auto head unit in the US are the three models announced by Pioneer at CES.  The models range in price from $700-$1400 and include the AVH-4100NEX, AVIC-7100NEX, and the AVIC-8100NEX. If you live in the UK or Australia your options are: the AVIC-F77DAB, AVIC-F70DAB, AVH-X8700BT(UK), and  AVIC-F70DAB, AVH-X8750BT (Australia). These units, while pricey, are certainly cheaper than purchasing an entirely new car to get HIGH on Android Auto.  I am considering a purchase of the 4100NEX or the 7100NEX because I want new technology right now, and I just bought a new car last year.  The Pioneer website shows my 2014 Honda Accord Sport is compatible with all three models so I might pull the trigger soon and have a review up on the site.
Several automakers including Ford, Honda, and Chevrolet have committed to putting Android Auto compatibility directly into their upcoming models.  We should also expect to see aftermarket units from Alpine and Parrot in the coming months as well.  What do you think of Android Auto?  Do you want to jump on the new tech right now, or wait until it is more refined and possibly cheaper?  Let us know in the comments what you think!

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Jeff Springer

"I am currently a researcher and Adjunct Professor at Arizona State University and Grand Canyon University. I fell in love with Android with the Nexus One release and realized that it was superior to iOS in all the ways I care about. I still use a Mac (and an iPhone for the camera), but my Apple tech products pale in comparison to my number of Android devices (watches, tablets, and phones). When I’m not rooting/modding one of my many Android phones or doing math/programming, you can find me taking in Phoenix Suns/Arizona Diamondbacks games in downtown Phoenix, and drinking good beer!"