Ever wondered how experiencing Android Auto would be like? Well, you would first need a head unit that would be compatible with Android Auto, but that seems to be a thing of the past now. In fact, you will be able to enjoy the Android Auto experience this time around without having to pony up the dough for a brand new head unit, since Google has made Android Auto available as a standalone app which can be downloaded straight onto your smartphone.
Android Auto’s other immediate rival would be Apple’s CarPlay, and for obvious reasons as both of these behemoths are duking it out as there is huge market potential where one is able to tap into. After all, majority of in-car user interfaces are not exactly mind-blowing, but rather, they seem to be archaic in nature. Google's Android Auto intends to change that, but it will work with a relatively new car, or you would have to upgrade your vehicle’s head unit which will cost some serious coin. Thankfully, that is no longer the case, as the Android Auto app can now be downloaded onto your smartphone, virtually providing anyone access to the Android driving experience.
The Android Auto app can be downloaded from the Play Store itself like any other app, and from there, you will have to make sure that the right permissions are given -- including essentials such as calls and messages, of course, so that Android Auto will be able to play them back on your behalf. After setting it up correctly, you should be able to see an interface which is not too different from that of a car with Android Auto purring along -- while saving a handsome amount of dough along the way, of course.
The Android Auto app’s main focus would be on driving, so do know that not all features on the app will be made available. Thankfully, there is the option to perform a voice search with the tap of the microphone button in case you want to play a song that has been stuck in your mind, but have not actually included it into your latest playlist.
It is not all about music though, as there will be other useful features in the Android Auto standalone app. For instance, different kinds of cards will appear on the screen such as informing you of the current weather, a list of recent calls so that you will be able to keep track of them all, and number of messages residing in your inbox that are simply screaming for attention at the next red light. Thankfully, you can just read those messages without responding to them since Android Auto’s focus is, again, on driving.
Whatever missed calls and messages will make an appearance on the main Android Auto screen, letting you respond accordingly -- be it returning the call, or to dismiss it as it is not important. You can also choose to reply text messages by speaking your message out -- hopefully Android Auto will be able to transcribe it well. Seems to be a decent inclusion in any Android-powered handset, this standalone app.