Back at Google I/O in 2014, Google announced Android Auto. Their first step into the car – well other than their self-driving cars. The idea was to provide a seamless experience in terms of infotainment systems in our cars. Because let's face it, the car makers suck at making infotainment systems. However, Google also wanted that data (reports have stated that Google wants basically an OBD-II dump, while others have stated that it's just whether the car is in park, what the headlights are doing, etc). After all, Google collects data about everything.
In 2015, we started to see Android Auto available on the road, with most car makers announcing plans for Android Auto – as well as Apple Carplay. But integrating things like Android Auto into a car don't happen overnight. So most of these cars will be available next year, or even later. Currently, only Hyundai and Volkswagen have cars on the road with Android Auto. And we've gotten a chance to take the Hyundai Sonata and the Volkswagen Golf-R for a test drive and see how well Android Auto works in those cars.
Many of the cars announced to have Android Auto, are coming in 2016. That includes models from Audi, Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet, GMC, Honda, Hyundai, Kia, Volkswagen and Volvo. Which is what makes us believe that 2016 will be the year of Android Auto. Additionally, Google has also begun to step up its game in getting developers on over to the Android Auto platform. With a new course from Udacity, to help developers get their app compatible. The course from Udacity is completely free as well.
I've been using Android Auto for the most of this year, between the Hyundai Sonata, Volkswagen Golf-R and the after-market head unit from Pioneer in the AVH-4100NEX. Android Auto works quite well, but it's still very clear that it's a new platform. The app support really isn't there, however on the other hand, the only apps we can really use are audio and messaging apps. So only so much support can come to Android Auto.
In 2016, we should expect to see some big changes for Android Auto, to make the platform even better. While Apple did go the wireless route this year with CarPlay, I'm not entirely sure that Google will do the same. I don't mind having my phone charge while I'm using Android Auto, it just means when you get out of the car, you have a full battery.