When Android Auto launched last March, the only way for motorists to get Google in their dashboard was to purchase a brand new head unit from Pioneer. Now, Hyundai has become the first automaker to offer Android Auto in a production vehicle.
Designed as an alternative to Apple’s CarPlay, Android Auto is available exclusively on the 2015 Sonata with Navigation, which ships with an eight-inch touch screen. The software is compatible with all Android smartphones that run the 5.0 Lollipop operating system or later.
Android Auto was primarily designed with convenience and safety in mind. The phone’s screen turns off as soon as it is plugged in to the Sonata’s USB port, virtually eliminating the possibility of texting while driving, a major cause of accidents. A menu immediately pops up on the screen and displays familiar-looking cards for features like Google Maps, Google Now, messaging, phone calling and Google Play Music.
Android Auto is controlled using either the Sonata’s touch screen or voice commands. Many popular smartphone applications are compatible with Android Auto, including iHeartRadio, Spotify, TuneIn, NPR, Stitcher, Skype and TextMe. Additionally, Sonata drivers can transfer personal reminders and appointments from their phone directly to their car.
Those who have already purchased a 2015 Sonata with Navigation can get the Android Auto update for free at their local Hyundai dealership. However, in a couple of weeks Sonata drivers will be able to skip the trip to the dealer and download the software themselves by simply logging onto Hyundai’s consumer website.
Hyundai promises other members of its lineup will be available with Android Auto in the next few months but it is keeping more specific details under wraps for the time being. If a Hyundai isn’t for you, General Motors, Honda, Volvo and Audi are among the 28 automakers that have voiced an interest in adopting the technology, so expect to hear a lot more about Android Auto as 2016 models begin to arrive on dealer lots.