TechAndroid Auto 12.0: New apps, streaming, and enhanced safety features

Android Auto 12.0: New apps, streaming, and enhanced safety features

Android Auto 12.0: New apps, streaming, and enhanced safety features
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2:03 PM EDT, May 20, 2024

Android Auto 12.0 has just been released to drivers, and many eagerly anticipate Google's new features. The company recently revealed that Android Auto and the parallel-developed Android Automotive will be open to various new applications.

Android Auto version 12.0 may be the first release where developers have the opportunity to expand the system significantly. Google cited an app for Uber drivers as an example of the system's growing capabilities, but that is not the only addition. According to Autoevolution, planned enhancements to Android Auto include web browsers, new games, and video streaming apps, including YouTube and Netflix.

According to CarPlay Hacks, integrating these applications aims to make the system more appealing to users and to increase its competitiveness in the car infotainment systems market.

Despite the additions, Google's communication about Android Auto 12.0's new features is often unclear. Drivers must discover for themselves what has been added after updating. User experiences may vary due to the diversity of devices and cars, and some updates are rolled out in stages at the server level. This approach may lead to user frustration, as they expect a consistent and predictable experience.

The introduction of video-supporting apps to Android Auto is a concept that allows for more car utilization during parking or camping. The increasingly larger screens in vehicles enable comfortable browsing of content, and watching a movie from YouTube or Netflix can make time spent in the car more enjoyable—all, of course, when the vehicle is stationary. Naturally, this raises concerns about whether someone might try to use these apps while driving.

However, bypassing Android Auto's security measures will not be accessible due to the numerous sensors that can monitor whether the vehicle is in motion. Thanks to the integration of the infotainment unit with the car and the phone, Android Auto "knows" about the parking brake, automatic transmission setting, and movement based on the GPS and sensors in the smartphone. Additionally, Google regularly updates its security systems to prevent the circumvention of these restrictions, making the process even more challenging.

This mechanism has already been applied in the GameSnacks app, which has been available since 2021. The Android Auto screen turns off when the vehicle starts moving during gameplay, ensuring that users do not use entertainment functions in a way that compromises safety.

How does Android Auto 12.0 compare to the competition?

Apple CarPlay, like Android Auto 12.0, offers advanced navigation features. For example, it supports Google Maps and Apple Maps. It is also integrated with music and podcast apps such as Spotify, Apple Music, Audible, and Overcast. However, Apple CarPlay does not natively support video apps, so users must rely on external tools like WheelPal to access apps like YouTube and Netflix.

It is worth noting that Android Auto 12.0 is available in over 500 car models, making it a more versatile solution than Apple CarPlay. Furthermore, it offers additional safety features, such as automatically turning off the screen while the vehicle is in motion to minimize driver distraction. On the other hand, Apple CarPlay has a simple and intuitive interface, significantly easing its use for iPhone users.

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