One of the features that everyone loves about Android is the ability to say "Ok Google" and give Google a query to execute. An example that most people like to use is "Ok Google, who is the president?" and it'll answer "Barack Obama" for now. This functionality has been available on Android for quite some time, as well as on Android Wear. But it was missing from Android Auto. Well it isn't any longer. With the latest update to the Android Auto app (also an update to the Google app), which began rolling out this week, you can now enable the "Ok Google" hotword detection.
To make this work, you'll need the latest version of Android Auto and the Google app. You see the actual setting is in the Google app, with the rest of the "Ok Google" detection settings. Now to turn it on, you'll see an option towards the bottom that says to allow it while driving, which means when Android Auto is in use. Just flip that toggle on and you'll be able to use "Ok Google" within Android Auto. So you can do things like "Ok Google, navigate to Chipotle" and it'll automatically find a Chipotle to navigate too. Instead of pressing the voice button on the head unit's display or the steering wheel. Or if you are using Android Auto in the app with your phone mounted, pressing the microphone button on your phone's display.
It's a bit odd that it took Google this long to bring this feature to Android Auto, but there's likely a good reason for it. Nonetheless, it's great that it is now available in Android Auto. It makes voice commands in Android Auto a bit easier, but it's still pretty clunky right now. For example, telling Google to play a song or a playlist in music apps that are not Google Play Music just simply don't work, most of the time. Android Auto has been around for over a year now, but there is still quite a bit of work left to do. Of course adding the "Ok Google" hotword detection does definitely make things a bit better, there's still work to be done here.