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Google releases Android Auto API for 3rd party app developers

Published: November 20, 2014 | Los Angeles, CA

Google announce the availability of our first APIs for building Auto-enabled apps for audio and messaging. This was following the announcement of Google’s Android-bases infotainment platform Android Auto back in June. Google also released the Developer Guidelines for the 3rd party app developers sometime back. Android apps can now be extended to the car in a way that is optimized for the driving experience.

Google_Android_Auto_Hyundai

For users, this means they simply connect their Android handheld to a compatible vehicle and begin utilizing a car-optimized Android experience that works with the car’s head unit display, steering wheel buttons, and more.

For developers, the APIs and UX guidelines make it easy to provide a simple way for users to get the information they need while on the road. As an added bonus, the Android Auto APIs let developers easily extend their existing apps targeting Android 5.0 Lollipop (API level 21) or higher to work in the car without having to worry about vehicle-specific hardware differences. This gives developers wide reach across manufacturers, model and regions, by just developing with one set of APIs and UX standards.

A large roster of apps

There are two use cases that Android Auto supports today:

  • Audio apps that expose content for users to browse and allow audio playback from the car, such as music, podcasts, news, etc.
  • Messaging apps that receive incoming notifications, read messages aloud, and send replies via voice from the car.

There are messaging apps including early partners TextMe, textPlus, Kik, and WhatsApp. The other supported category is audio apps which enable simple browsing and audio playback from the car. This can include music, podcasts, and news apps. Among the first batch of these apps are iHeartRadio, Joyride, MLB.com, NPR, Pandora, PocketCasts, Songza, SoundCloud, Spotify, Stitcher, and Umano.

Voice-enabled features

Being an offshoot of Android 5.0 Lollipop, Android Auto also integrates Google Now contextual voice search and displays a simplified Google Now card interface on its home screen with information about upcoming appointments, current weather, traffic conditions and commute times. The demonstrated voice input had just a bit of lag between speech and recognition, but the accuracy of the voice recognition was excellent even with our demonstrator’s Scottish accent, and even when I stumbled over a few words while making requests.

Once it’s fully baked and available to the public, end users of Android 5.0 will enable Android Auto by downloading an app from the Google Play Store and then connecting to a compatible automobile or aftermarket car audio receiver via USB. This is similar to how Android Wear users have to download a controller app to feed data to their smartwatches and means that as this app is updated via Google Play, the in-car experience has the potential to update and become more refined.

Demonstrated in Hyundai Sonata 2015

When demonstrated in the Hyundai, these apps didn’t display any text on the screen; rather the body of the message was read aloud by Google’s text-to-speech engine. The driver is then given the option to reply via voice, without taking a hand off the steering wheel.

Hyundai expects to offer this functionality to drivers of the 2015 Hyundai Sonata alongside its upcoming implementation of Apple’s CarPlay software, which will give its drivers two cross-platform app-integration options, as well as the built-in first-party BlueLink software’s functionality. Honda Motor Co. has also pledged to offer Android Auto in its vehicles starting in 2015.

Source: Android Developers Blog

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