‘OK Google’ voice commands coming to the stand-alone Android Auto app

Ford SYNC 3 and Android Auto
Android Auto, Google’s platform for connected cars, got a major update earlier this month. Previously, Google’s answer to Apple’s CarPlay required a fancy (and expensive) heads-up entertainment console, but that’s no longer the case — you can use any old Android smartphone or tablet as an Android Auto unit. And soon, the experience will get even better: on Thursday, Google began rolling out support for hands-free voice commands.

Eagle-eyed Reddit user neo5468 spotted the change in the most recent version of the Android Auto companion app. The new setting, when enabled, allows you to initiate a command or web search when the Android Auto interface is on screen. Shout “OK Google” and your smartphone or tablet will begin listening for commands to play a song, for example, or adjust your phone’s volume level, toggle settings like Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, pull up directions, or give the local temperature and elevation.

The feature appears to be rolling out gradually — that is to say, Google’s enabling the feature selectively. Installing the newest version of the Android Search and Auto apps might improve your chances, but you’ll still have to wait your turn.

For the uninitiated, Android Auto centers around a home screen containing the most relevant bits of information at any given moment. If you receive a phone call or text, you’ll see the content of a message, for example, and if there’s a road closure, you’ll see detour details. The platform’s apps include turn-by-turn navigation apps like Google Maps, music apps like Google Play Music, Spotify, iHeart Radio, TuneIn, Joyride, Stitcher, and communication apps like Google Hangouts.

The new and improved Android Auto — version 2.0 — provides access to car-optimized apps like Google Play Music, Maps, Pandora, and real-time information like traffic incidents and weather. It launches automatically when your phone is paired to your car via Bluetooth, and supports voice commands for Google Maps, music, and messaging apps. And it tightly integrates with vehicles from automakers like Honda and Hyundai. The latter’s MyHyundai Android Auto app, for instance, provides access to Hyundai Roadside Assistance, monthly vehicle reports, maintenance alerts, and a Valet mode that notifies you if your car exits a pre-determined boundary.

Google said more than 200 new car models from 50 brands now support Android Auto. The most recent to jump aboard, Kia, recently deployed Android Auto as a free software update on cars spanning models years 2014 through 2017. Another carmaker, Hyundai, rolled out the platform as part of an update for certain models of Genesis, Elantra GT, Tuscon, and Santa Fe.

Product Review

Simple, smart, and affordable, Google’s USB-C earbuds are a must-buy

Google’s follow-up to its wireless Pixel Buds are the wired Google Pixel USB-C earbuds. It’s the simpler route, but the earbuds are still smart, deliver good sound, and -- best of all -- they’re affordable.
Mobile

The Google Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL are now available for purchase

Google's latest flagships, the Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL, are now official and we have all the details from the October 9 event in New York City and Paris. Here's everything we know about the Google Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL.
Computing

Chrome 70 is now available and won’t automatically log you in to the browser

Google has officially launched Chrome version 70 on Windows Mac and Linux. The update introduces some new Progressive Web App integrations on Windows 10 and also tweaks the much controversial auto login with Google Account feature.
Product Review

Hotter than a Dot? Google's Home Mini outsmarts, doesn't outperform Amazon rival

With voice match and improved artificial intelligence capabilities, the $49 Google Home Mini is a voice assistant that seamlessly puts the Google platform on the tip of your tongue.
Mobile

Need a quick battery boost? Try one of our favorite portable chargers

Battery life still tops the polls when it comes to smartphone concerns. If it’s bugging you, then maybe it’s time to snag yourself a portable charger. Here are our picks of the best portable chargers.
Mobile

Which new iPhone is the best? iPhone XS vs. iPhone XS Max vs. iPhone XR

Apple has three new iPhone models to choose from this year, making the choice a little harder than usual. What's the difference between the iPhone XS, the iPhone XS Max, and the iPhone XR, and which is best?
Product Review

Huawei’s monster Mate 20 X makes the Galaxy Note 9 look small

The Huawei Mate 20 X has a 7.2-inch screen, but is surprisingly manageable to hold, yet still a little too big to carry around. Huawei’s pushing the phone’s ability as a mobile gaming handheld, challenging the Nintendo Switch.
Mobile

Google may charge up to $40 per Android device for app suite following EU ruling

Google announced that it will be charging Android device manufacturers in Europe a licensing fee to use its apps and services. The announcement is part of an effort to comply with new European Commission regulations.
Mobile

Need a do-over? Here's how to factory reset an iPhone, from XS on down

Resetting an iPhone can alleviate all sorts of software woes, and wipe away personal data should you sell your device or give it to someone else. Here's how to factory reset an iPhone from within iOS or iTunes.
Mobile

How to sell your old Google Pixel or Pixel 2 for the most money

So, it's time for a expensive new smartphone, and you'd like to partially fund the purchase by selling your old Google Pixel. Find all the information you need to get as much money as possible for your Pixel or Pixel 2 here in our guide.
Mobile

The OnePlus 6T is coming a day earlier, event moved to October 29

According to a recent report, the launch of the OnePlus 6T could be different from any other OnePlus launch in history. How? It could have the backing of a major U.S. carrier. Here's everything we know about the OnePlus 6T.
Mobile

Sprint now lets you add Hulu's Live TV service to your unlimited plan

Sprint recently introduced three new data plans to its roster -- Unlimited Basic , Unlimited Plus, and Unlimited Premium. Here, we break down your options to help you decide which one is best for you and your family.
Photography

Camera shootout! Testing the latest Pixel, iPhone, and Galaxy Note in real life

Which takes the best photos, the Pixel 3 XL, iPhone XS Max, Galaxy Note 9, or Pixel 2 XL? We put the cameras on all these top-notch phones through their paces to see which performs best in the real world, from low light to portrait mode…
Mobile

Sams's Club offers $100 gift cards for iPhone XR pre-orders

After months of rumors and speculation, Apple has finally taken the wraps off of the new iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max, and iPhone XR. Now that the phones are out, you might be wondering how you can get them for yourself.