- Updates for Android Auto include more functionality, with new apps and entertainment options.
- Users can improve productivity in the car with audio-only Webex and Zoom conference calls and virtual meetings while on the road, or pass the time while charging up your EV with Prime Video series or in-car web-browsing.
- For Hyundai, Kia, and Genesis models, there’s also a new phone-based digital key for your car.
Automakers spend millions in R&D on designing their infotainment systems, but it increasingly seems like they should just leave the work to the phone companies. Case in point: Android Auto’s latest updates provide even more useful features for drivers, all packaged with the smartphone you probably already have in your pocket.
On the productivity side, new in-car apps from Webex and Zoom will make it easier to join in on conference calls while behind the wheel. A transition to virtual work untethered plenty of folks from their desks. Still, having to pull over to fumble for your phone or laptop to join in on a virtual meeting is a pain. Now, you can chime in—audio only, of course—while on the move, turning your Android Auto–equipped car into a mobile office.
The latest update comes with new entertainment options for vehicles with built-in Google, and none too soon, either. As EV early adopters long ago learned, public chargers aren’t always placed next to that perfectly quaint coffee shop. Waiting around to top off your EV can bore you to tears. Rolling out for Volvo and Polestar brand vehicles (and, overseas, Renault), a new Prime Video app allows users to stream their favorite shows while the electrons trickle in. There’s also a new Vivaldi internet browser for web surfing.
Cars with Google onboard also have access to an app from the Weather Channel. When downloaded, this app allows your Honda to give you forecast updates as you drive along, something that’s ideal for road trips and day-to-day commutes. The app even offers an onboard weather radar map view of your planned trip.
Lock and Unlock for Hyundai/Kia/Genesis
Last, Google is expanding its rollout of digital vehicle keys, something that’s already available in some European markets. For some Hyundai, Kia, and Genesis vehicles, the use of a compatible Pixel or Samsung phone allows users to unlock and start their vehicles with just their phone. You can also send this digital key to other phones, should you lend your car to someone else.
For now, most of these features are tied to certain vehicle brands, but Google says the apps will soon be more common. There are still holdouts, including Rivian, but between Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, the industry may be working toward a more standardized type of onboard infotainment.
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Brendan McAleer is a freelance writer and photographer based in North Vancouver, B.C., Canada. He grew up splitting his knuckles on British automobiles, came of age in the golden era of Japanese sport-compact performance, and began writing about cars and people in 2008. His particular interest is the intersection between humanity and machinery, whether it is the racing career of Walter Cronkite or Japanese animator Hayao Miyazaki’s half-century obsession with the Citroën 2CV. He has taught both of his young daughters how to shift a manual transmission and is grateful for the excuse they provide to be perpetually buying Hot Wheels.
Source: Motor - aranddriver.com