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How Google Is Making Android Auto Available To Everyone

Android Auto in the 2015 Hyundai SonataAndroid Auto in the 2015 Hyundai Sonata
Android Auto in the 2015 Hyundai Sonata

Google’s in-car software platform Android Auto, which brings the functionality and feel of a smartphone to the vehicle’s central screen, is now in more than 200 new car models from 50 brands.

Even with such a high level of saturation in new vehicles, the in-car software platform has been unavailable to anyone driving an older car or truck, or one lacking an aftermarket dashboard display.

Google announced an update Monday to the app that will allow anyone with an Android phone to download use it in their car, even old models with outdated technology. The new version of Android Auto will be rolling out in the coming days to more than 30 countries, Google says.

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Android Auto, which launched two years ago, is designed to give a simplified user experience meant for drivers; imagine a few large icons on the phone’s display—all of which can be accessed via voice—instead of the typical cluster of apps that can crowd the screen.

Once downloaded, Android Auto will either connect to the driver’s compatible car display or operate directly from the phone. From here, a user can use voice-recognition prompts to make a call, send a text message, or launch an app such as Spotify or Pandora. Drivers can also get turn-by-turn direction via Google Maps.

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Users will be able to automatically start the app when the phone is paired with Bluetooth. Google says will also enhance support for hands-free voice commands in the coming weeks. Users will soon be able to easily access features like maps, music and messaging by just saying “Ok Google” so they can stay focused on the road.

The company’s push into automotive is noteworthy because the more automakers bite, the more services Google can deliver to consumers and integrate even deeper into their daily lives. The company is also going up against Apple and its rival in-car software platform Apple CarPlay.