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Android Auto will bring Google Now, full smartphone integration to your dashboard

Google is highlighting the long-awaited Android Auto technology that will soon be available in a number of new cars.

Designed as an alternative to Apple CarPlay, Android Auto lets the driver access compatible applications installed on his or her smartphone by using either a car’s touch screen or voice commands. Smartphones automatically go into car mode when they are plugged into a car’s USB port and linked via Bluetooth.

Android Auto’s home screen looks similar to the popular Google Now application. It provides cards that give relevant information such as nearby attractions, commute suggestions, warnings about traffic delays and the weather forecast, and it is also where notifications received from the miscellaneous applications are displayed. Additionally, drivers can use Android auto to set a reminder while driving.

At the bottom of the screen is a utility bar with icons used to select a song, make a phone call, access car-related information or get navigation directions. Touching a microphone icon located at the top right of the screen lets the driver give voice commands or reply to a text message while staying focused on the road ahead.

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Users can access their content regardless of what car they’re driving because Android Auto is run by the native mobile platform, not by the built-in infotainment system. Simply put, the software overrides the manufacturer’s infotainment system.

Google believes Android Auto can make driving safer by reducing distractions and keeping the driver connected on the go. Automakers seem to agree since General Motors, Volvo, Honda, Hyundai and Audi are among the 28 automakers that have expressed interest in incorporating the technology in their cars.