Getting started with Android Auto - GTD

Screenshot by Rick Broida/CNET

It is virtually impossible to quit folks from utilizing their phones whilst driving, illegal and insanely harmful although it might be. Thankfully, Google's newly updated Android Auto now functions in each vehicle, not just a handful of models with fancy infotainment systems. (Your move, Apple. Seriously, what's the hold-up?)

Android Auto successfully adds a "vehicle mode" to your phone, an oversize, simplified interface that provides you fast access to phone, navigation and audio attributes. All you require is the app, which is presently accessible in the US on Google Play and rolling out soon to other countries, and a dashboard mount. (Not certain what type of mount to get? Read my rundown of the three primary smartphone-mount choices.)

Let's take a look at Android Auto's attributes and what you ought to know about utilizing them:


Android Auto functions with a selection of third-party apps, all of which have been updated to integrate with Auto's specialized interface. These consist of messaging apps such as Kik, WhatsApp and Skype. There's also music apps such as Pandora, Spotify and Google Play Music, natch. And there are audio apps ranging from Audible and NPR 1 to Overdrive and Stitcher.

To see what's accessible and install any apps you do not already have, swipe correct or tap the Menu button, then select Apps for Android Auto.


If you are utilizing a compatible messaging app, Android Auto can automatically produce a reply to any incoming text. By default, that message is, "I'm driving correct now." To alter it, just swipe correct (or tap the Menu icon), then tap Settings > Auto reply.

Take note, nevertheless, that your auto-reply will not be auto-sent. When a message comes in, you will see it on the Android Auto house screen, with the auto-reply text shown beneath it. To really send the auto-reply, you require to tap it.

When you do that, the message thread automatically toggles to "mute" status so you won't get further interruptions. You can tap once more to "unmute."


The Android Auto house screen will automatically display recent destinations from Google Maps just tap 1 and you are on your way. You can also ask for directions by saying "OK, Google" or by tapping the microphone or tap the navigation icon to access Maps. The icons here could be larger, Google -- just saying.


Auto's phone screen is about as straightforward as they come: You get your list of favorites (and recent calls) pulled from the Phone app, but oversize for simple at-a-glance tapping.

The order in which these favorites appear is based on the order they're listed in Phone, but when I tried reordering them in the latter, the list didn't update in Android Auto. Hopefully that's a bug Google will fix. In the meantime, you can swipe correct (or tap Menu) to access phone attributes like voicemail and contact history.


When you tap the headphone icon, Android Auto brings up player controls for the most lately utilized audio app. Tap that icon once more and you will see a list of the accessible options from whatever compatible apps are installed.

For the majority of these apps, you will swipe correct (or tap Menu) to select what you want to hear from that app: playlist, podcast, and so on. As soon as you've started listening, you can swipe left from the primary player controls to access much more controls -- shuffle play, thumbs up or down, and so forth.

Auto for the individuals

If you determine to use Android Auto on a normal basis, and here's hoping you do, you can set it to run automatically whenever your phone pairs with your car's Bluetooth. Just hit the Settings screen, tap Auto launch, then choose the corresponding Auto-launch device.

As soon as it is running, the app stays active until you hit the House button, then asks you to confirm your exit.

I believe this is a great initial step toward creating smartphones safer in vehicles, but I'd like to see Google make particular controls even larger and add an auto-send choice to auto-reply. Your thoughts?

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