Google and Hyundai team up for first new Android Auto car

Android Auto, a dashboard operating system for cars, began shipping this week in the 2015 Hyundai Sonata. Reviewers say Android Auto is a good way to access music, Google Maps, and other smart phone features without having to take your eyes off the road.

The interior of a 2015 Hyundai Sonata, with a connected Android phone, is shown. Android Auto largely replaces the car's built-in operating system to allow drivers to access music, maps, texts, and other smart phone apps.

Android Auto, Google’s operating system for cars, began shipping in aftermarket kits in March, but this week, it finally hit new cars, as well. The 2015 Hyundai Sonata is the first car with built-in Android Auto, though the OS will be coming to other cars in the near future.

Android Auto lets a car connect to Android phones with a USB cable, and allows certain apps to run right through the car’s dashboard. Drivers can take a hands-free phone call, get Google Maps directions, or listen to music through Spotify or other audio apps, without having to touch the phone itself.

It’s worth noting that Android Auto doesn’t totally replace the Hyundai Sonata’s standard dashboard interface; it’s basically an app that launches automatically when a compatible Android phone (one running Android 5.0 Lollipop or higher) is connected. Since the Sonata already has microphones and buttons built in to the car, drivers can interact with Android Auto through voice commands or cabin controls.

Google put a number of restrictions on Android Auto to make sure that drivers don’t get distracted from watching the road. Once a phone is plugged in, all control is ceded to the car’s dashboard display, so you won’t be tempted to squint at the phone’s screen. App lists, such as lists of songs or playlists within the Spotify app, have a set maximum length so drivers can’t scroll endlessly. And notifications from Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat, and other social media sites won’t show up at all in Android Auto.

The operating system is generally built around voice search features, which are considered a safer way to interact with software while in the car since it doesn’t require you to take your eyes off the road at all. For example, Android Auto will read incoming text messages aloud and allow you to verbally dictate a response, but it won’t allow you to reread messages that have already been received.

Early reviews of Android Auto, or at least its current implementation in the Sonata, are positive. “I found Android Auto to be a much more pleasant experience than Hyundai’s native system,” Dan Seifert wrote for The Verge. “It’s faster, gives me access to the same maps and music I use on my phone, and is just more pleasant and familiar to use. If I owned the Sonata, I can’t think of a reason why I’d use the native UI instead of Android Auto.”

The Wall Street Journal’s Joanna Stern praised the Google Maps implementation: “Thanks to Android Auto’s integration with Google Now, the next appointment in my Google calendar or the address of a recent search automatically popped up on the Android Auto home screen when I got into the car. I was amazed at just how well the system kept predicting where I was going next.”

People who already own a 2015 Hyundai Sonata can take the car in to the dealership to receive a software update enabling Android Auto. Hyundai says it will also release a downloadable update later this summer that people can load onto their cars via USB.

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to