Android Auto: Wireless is the Battery Inefficient Future

At Google I/O last week, the company debuted a few new features for Android Auto. A couple of them were highly requested, like the ability to use the service wirelessly, and use Waze. Google had people demoing the wireless functionality at the developers conference, and it worked pretty well. But the interesting part about this feature is that it won't be added to the app in the future. Instead, the feature needs to be added by their partners. So if you have a Pioneer or JVC head unit, you would need them to add support for Android Auto wireless, and the same goes for vehicles with Android Auto, the car maker will need to add it themselves. Which means, most people won't get to take advantage of wireless Android Auto, unfortunately.

But that doesn't mean wireless isn't the future. Google will likely push it (once it's ready and out of testing) to everyone, and push their partners to add support. Wireless Android Auto means that you'll be able to get in the car with your phone, and it'll automatically connect via Bluetooth and turn on Android Auto. It sounds great right? But you have to remember that Android Auto takes a lot of resources and thus depletes your battery pretty quickly. Especially if you are using an aftermarket head unit. Since it uses the GPS signal from your phone, it's running GPS the entire time, as well as streaming music or whatever else you're doing, and that's all over 4G LTE. So as you can expect, that's a lot of battery usage. Which is why wired Android Auto was a good idea. It keeps your phone charged (or charges it) while you're driving. But many people want a wireless connection for Android Auto, which is to be expected.

What Google showed off at Google I/O last week is a very early version of the wireless functionality. In fact, the demo crashed quite a few times while they were showing off the functionality. So it's clear that it's nowhere near finished. But it's coming along, and at least we all know that they are working on making it wireless. Besides making it work wirelessly, Google is going to need to find a way to make Android Auto work a bit better on the battery. Many people don't like plugging their smartphone in every time they use Android Auto, many find it to be a hassle, so while wireless Android Auto is a convenience, it's not quite feasible right now. But if Google can make it a bit more battery efficient, it'll be the best of both worlds.

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