This week, Google updated its Android Auto page with a number of Suzuki models that now support Android Auto. There are now 11 compatible models, all of which are in the model year 2016 or later, which is pretty impressive from Suzuki. These include the Hustler, Ignis, Lapin, Solio, Solio Bandit, Spacia, Spacia Custom, Spacia Custom Z, Swift, WagonR, and the WagonR Stingray. All of these now have support for Android Auto, at least according to Google’s website. Many of these will require a software update before Android Auto is available – except for the Swift, WagonR and the WagonR Stingray.
The addition of Suzuki is a pretty big one. It makes the list of compatible Android Auto vehicles even larger, and that’s a good thing. There are still a number of holdouts out there, and many models that still do not have Android Auto, but that is likely only a matter of time before that changes. Android Auto is also available in about 31 countries, while most of the larger countries are supported (except for China, which obviously is due to the fact that Google is banned there and Android Auto relies heavily on Google services), there are still plenty of countries that are not supported just yet. If you have one of the Suzuki models above, and have a compatible Android smartphone (running Android 5.0 Lollipop or later), then you can start using Android Auto now.
For those that might need a refresher of what exactly Android Auto actually is, it’s basically like plugging your laptop into a monitor. Your smartphone gets plugged into your car and then it takes over the display in your center console. From there you’ll see a very “Google-y” interface, with different cards showing things like destinations, the weather, missed calls, messages, what’s currently playing and more. Android Auto does allow you to go ahead and use Google Maps for navigation (Waze is coming soon and is currently in closed beta). You’ll also be able to make calls in the car, which is a nice addition, and keeps you concentrated on the road. For media, you’re able to stream music from a slew of apps, play audiobooks and even podcasts from a variety of podcatcher apps. Now while there’s no interface for responding to messages, you are able to do this, it’s all done by voice.
The primary purpose of Android Auto and it’s “dumbed down” interface, is so that you are concentrated on driving and not distracted by Android Auto. This is why Google forces Android Auto apps to be put into a container. That way it’s not distracting, but also so that the interface is the same across a variety of apps. Of course, really the only ones with an interface is actually media apps like Google Play Music, Spotify, Audible, and Pocket Casts to name a few. If you don’t have a compatible car, however, you can mount your phone and use the Android Auto app in the car. It’s not quite the same experience, but it is far cheaper than buying a new car or a new head unit.