Google's Android Auto takes on Apple CarPlay

2 April 2015
 by 
, News Corp Australia network

Google's car entertainment system is rolling out in Australia just a week after its official global launch in the US.

Electronics firm Pioneer yesterday said it had begun selling two 7-inch display systems compatible with the new Android Auto.

Android Auto is driven by a connected Android smartphone with the latest Lollipop 5.0 software installed. Phones such as Google Nexus 5 and 6, HTC One M9 and Samsung's upcoming Galaxy S6 already have it.

Pioneer said its two Android Auto compatible models would cost $1149 and $1999. It has a foot in both camps, having last year announced head units for Apple's competing CarPlay system.

The existence of both CarPlay and Android Auto could see the battle lines for the smartphone war spill over into the car market, with a person's choice of car influenced, to some extent, by their brand of phone and the car system choices on offer.

Android Auto offers what you'd expect from a modern connected GPS system. There's integrated navigation, you can answer calls, send and receive text messages and listen to streamed music from Google Play.

The system leverages the smartphone's apps to display cafes, fast food outlets, grocery stores, petrol stations and parking options

However, Google says you get a much better integrated experience than with a stand-alone device. For example, if you have a calendar event imminent, Android Auto will notify you and offer to navigate you there. If you opt to store your navigation history, it will try to guess where you want to go and take you there.

At intersections, Maps on the system will display alternative destination times should you opt to take an alternative route. The system leverages the smartphone's apps to display cafes, fast food outlets, grocery stores, petrol stations and parking options among thers on the screen.

Android Auto leverages Google Voice and reads out text messages as they arrive

Google Australia senior production manager Andrew Foster, who works on Google Maps, said the team had removed irrelevant labels from the auto version of Maps for a less cluttered driving experience.

Android Auto leverages Google Voice and reads out text messages as they arrive. The driver can also dictate replies, which in turn are read back before being sent. The same applies to messages from third party apps such as WhatsApp - provided they are installed on the connected phone.

You can navigate through music services such as Spotify, TuneIn Radio and Stitcher on the console if their apps are loaded on the phone.

Mr Foster said the system had been in development for two years.

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