Android Auto was first introduced during Google I/O 2014, and made its debut on a commercially available vehicle in May 2015 with the launch of the Hyundai Sonata. Since then, numerous car manufacturers have teamed up with Google to bring Android Auto to drivers around the world, and the platform is expected to gain a lot more grip in 2016 – 2017. Earlier this year, Kia was among the car manufacturers to announce their use of Android Auto in future models, specifically the 2017 Kia Forte5 unveiled in Detroit. More recently during the Geneva International Motor Show, Kia revealed that by the end of 2017, Android Auto will be offered for its entire range of cars destined for the European market.
According to Kia, Android Auto will be introduced along with the Kia Niro hybrid crossover which was announced in January 2016. The Kia Niro has been developed in isolation from existing models and has been built as a hybrid car from the ground up. Expected to debut in the third quarter of the year, the Kia Niro will become the company’s first Android Auto-enabled car, and will be followed by models such as the Kia Optima Sportwagon and the Kia Plug-In Hybrid. Kia’s entire range of cars for Europe will apparently offer Android Auto before the end of 2017. Kia Europe COO, Michael Cole, adds that “In-car connectivity is increasingly important to our buyers, who are young-at-heart and often seek the latest technologies on offer.”
As for the Android Auto platform itself, it’s likely that Google will discuss its future during their I/O 2016 keynote (May 18th), especially since last year there was no mention of Android Auto during the event, and given the fact that the platform is becoming increasingly popular. Although there’s not much official information to go by, some of the additions that might help the platform could include compatibility with a broader range of Android applications, as well as the ability to connect a smartphone to the vehicle’s infotainment system wirelessly, as opposed to having to maintain a connection through the USB port.
It’s worth noting that Android Auto will be accompanied by Kia Connected Services on the aforementioned vehicles, so if you’re not a fan of Google Maps then there will always be an alternative method to gain live traffic updates, weather forecasts and so on.