At its Google I/O 2014 event, Google announced a version of Android optimized for hitting the road. Known as Android Auto, the operating system is designed specifically for use while driving, with a heavy emphasis on voice commands and spoken notifications.
Android Auto comes out of Google’s Open Automotive Alliance—a partnership with more than 40 auto and tech companies that launched earlier this year. According to Google, cars equipped with Google’s specialized road-friendly software will be “rolling off dealer lots” before the end of 2014.
Android Auto’s interface provides personalized contextual information in conjunction with Google Now, all redesigned around vehicular use. Naturally, Android Auto focuses on two of the most prominent driver frustrations: playing music and getting directions. By integrating with Google Play Music and other digital music partners, Android Auto supports both steering wheel and voice-activated music commands, making changing songs and searching significantly less dangerous than swiping around a screen.
Google Maps for Android Auto is fully voice controlled as well. It will speak directions aloud and also display them on a screen that hovers above the map itself. Incoming messages and other notifications don’t occlude the navigation screen
Google introduced the Android Auto SDK, to attract Android developers on smartphones and tablets over to its even more mobile Android Auto experience. Android Auto also employs the same API that handles notifications on Android Wear, Google’s new smartwatch platform.
Lead image by Owen Thomas for ReadWrite