Hyundai has become the first car to launch Android Auto on production vehicles, putting Google on the map as a strong competitor to Apple’s CarPlay.
Android Auto is premiering on the 2015 Sonata with Navigation at dealerships in the U.S., and will later become available on other Hyundai models.
“Android Auto aligns with Hyundai’s core interior design principles of safety, intuitiveness and simplicity,” said Dave Zuchowski, president and CEO, Hyundai Motor America. “We launched this highly anticipated feature on our best-selling Sonata, adding to our promise of value. With the launch of Android Auto, we provide more owners with the experience of cutting-edge technology.”
Android Auto not only brings a high technology experience to Hyundai owners, but also improves safety. Android Auto helps keep drivers’ eyes and attention on the road by integrating the advanced driving-related functions of the user’s smartphone with the familiar centralized screen, physical controls and microphone of their car.
Furthermore, the smartphone’s screen becomes “locked,” so drivers are not tempted to look down and interact with their phones directly while Android Auto is in use.
Availability for existing owners
In the U.S, owners of existing 2015 Sonata with Navigation can get the Android Auto software update free of charge at Hyundai dealers starting today. Later this summer, owners in the U.S. can visit www.hyundaiusa.com/myhyundai and download the Android Auto software onto a USB memory drive.
Owners will need a MyHyundai account to start the Android Auto download. A MyHyundai account requires name, address and a Vehicle Identification Number (VIN).
Once the USB with the Android Auto software is inserted into their Sonata’s USB port, it will automatically update the vehicle’s Navigation system to make it Android Auto compatible. The Android Auto compatible Navigation system with an eight-inch touchscreen display is available on the Sonata Sport, Eco, Limited, Sport 2.0T and Limited 2.0T models.
Owners will need the Android 5.0 “Lollipop” operating system or later, and the Android Auto companion app on their compatible phone to integrate Android Auto into Sonata’s screen and controls. A micro USB cable is required to connect the phone to the car’s USB port.
The first time an owner plugs his or her phone into their parked Sonata, the phone will prompt the download of the Android Auto companion app from the Google Play. Users of Android Auto will instantly recognize familiar Android phone applications, such as Google Maps, Google Now, messaging, phone calling and Google Play Music upon connecting their Android phone to their Hyundai vehicle. These applications can be controlled by voice, steering wheel controls and touchscreen.
Android Auto also will offer many popular third-party audio apps that owners have on their phones, including iHeartRadio, Spotify, TuneIn, NPR, Stitcher, Skype, TextMe and many more. Owners can find out up-to-date information about phone compatibility at https://support.google.com/androidauto.
Advantages of Android Auto
The Google Now card-based experience provides suggested locations and travel times based on the user’s searches, calendar entries and home and office locations, as well as weather information and “now playing” information for music streamed via the phone
App software (navigation, streaming music, etc.) is automatically updated because the apps live on the phone
Natural voice recognition with Google voice actions
Owners can easily bring their personal reminders, suggested destinations, calendar appointments and music preferences with them when they get in their car
Android Auto automatically pairs with the Sonata for phone calls through Bluetooth when connected for the first time via USB
Android Auto has familiar interfaces that are easy to use and have almost no learning curve.
Seamless car integration of smartphone services has been badly needed for a long time to support consumer safety and convenience. It is therefore about time that consumer electronic giants are seriously considering the car as a platform for their services, according to Ola Henfridsson of Warwick Business School.
Henfridsson has researched digital technology and apps in cars and is a Professor of Information Systems and Management.
“What new aspects do Android Auto in the car entail? On the surface it does not offer much more than Apple’s CarPlay in that it extends the user interface of the smartphone into the car dashboard for increased convenience and safety. In this regard, it is good news for users of Android handsets, and might enable car companies targeting markets where Android handsets are strong to make their car more competitive,” said Henfridsson.
Henfridsson, however, said it remains to be seen whether any car manufacturer will seriously seek to leverage Android’s open source basis to create their own app stores and more actively take charge of the digital transformation of the car.
“Car sensor-generated data is valuable and finding ways to exploit that might be part of the solution. It would perhaps counter-act the tendency that digital giants are taking over larger and larger shares of the value generation related to the transportation of the future,” said Henfridsson.