Android Auto didn’t get a single shoutout during the two-hour keynote at Google I/O 2016, but the smartphone projection service made plenty of waves as the conferences went on. Several new features are coming to the app this year, but that’s not all — it’s about to get a whole lot more accessible and user-friendly.
The most notable announcement relates to Android Auto’s newfound independence. In an update coming soon, drivers will be able to access all of Android Auto’s functions straight from their cellphone in any car. That means people who can’t afford a brand new ride or an aftermarket head unit will still be able to use Google Maps, voice controls, and messaging simply by mounting their mobile on the dashboard. Better yet, the system can be managed with “OK Google” commands, a process known as hotwording. Hands on the wheel, folks.
Using Android Auto in a 20-year-old hooptie sounds pretty great, but the app itself is set to acquire a few new features including Waze. Google bought the crowdsourced navigation standout for $1.1 billion back in 2013, and going forward, both Google Maps and Waze will exist side-by-side.
Finally, as we reported earlier today, automaker-specific apps are coming to Android Auto. The first of the batch is called MyHyundai (you won’t believe who makes it), and it adds exclusive functions like Roadside Assistance, monthly vehicle reports, maintenance alerts, and even a Valet Mode. Honda will also release its own version of Android Auto in the near future.
For more news from Google I/O 2016, check out our day one recap.