Google Android Auto Launches In 18 Countries In Its Biggest International Rollout To Date

Apr 08, 2016 05:40 AM EDT | V Doctor

Android Auto, the in-car operating system created by Google, has recently been released in 18 new countries. The launch happened in Puerto Rico and included more places in its list, growing the total from 11 to 29 countries.

The latest international rollout is the biggest by Android Auto yet, which includes Brazil, India and Russia. The three countries are among the fastest-growing car markets on a global scale, although not all vehicles bought in these places will be compatible with Android Auto. Other countries that were included are Austria, Switzerland and those in Latin America. This means that Android Auto will become available as a standard option for car buyers when choosing their in-car entertainment setup.

Tech Crunch notes that Android Auto was released in 2014 by Google. The operating system was specifically developed for in-car use, allowing users to link their smartphones and mobile devices to control various applications and perform tasks using their car displays. The recent move by Google is expected to spur more efforts from its rival, Apple CarPlay. Any Android smartphone operating on Android 5.0 Lollipop at least can integrate it with Android Auto. Simply download the free Android Auto app from the Play Store and link the device to the infotainment system of the vehicle.

LiveMint reports that car infotainment systems are becoming increasingly smarter in the past several months. The software, touchscreens, capabilities and controls have significantly been improved. Android Auto made the Android smartphone an integral component of the vehicle, allowing users to use their device through the infotainment system as if it were a part of the car itself.

Android Auto combines the interface of current apps while keeping the Material Design language of Android Lollipop. Various Google apps will integrate well with the in-car infotainment system, allowing users to navigate, play music, make calls, manage their messages and do other tasks conveniently. Using voice search, users can further verbally command their smartphone to do particular actions while driving. With the recent rollout, the apps available in the new places will have to be checked first to determine whether these will work with the operating system. In India, Pioneer and Kenwood are offering infotainment systems that are compatible with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay.

Owners of the Maruti Suzuki Ertiga, Ciaz or Balena with the preloaded SmartPlay infotainment system can upgrade their software for free, which will include the Android Auto capability. The 2016 models from Audi, Honda, Hyundai, Mahindra, Skoda, Suzuki, Renault and Volkswagen are also set to provide Android Auto capabilities. The specific model and release dates have yet to be announced.

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