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Android Auto hidden gems: vehicle diagnostics, secret sensor support and more
Android Auto is useful and fun, but no one can deny it has much maturing to do (we figured out as much during our Hyundai Sonata review). It’s not exactly a complete replacement for vehicle infotainment and security systems currently available in the market, but Google does seem to have some pretty big plans for Android Auto to grow into.
The guys at Ars Technica took it upon themselves to do more than a consumer-based review. They flipped the developer switch on and decided to delve deeper into the operating system. Buried inside thousands of lines of code and legal information, they found some evidence of what could be future projects for the driving-optimized platform.
Disclaimer: Even though all this data and information comes straight from Google’s Android Auto system, it doesn’t necessarily mean they will all be hitting the market. This is still unannounced content, so treat it as such. Regardless, it seems unlikely that some people at Google worked hard to build each of these elements into the operating system just to see them die later.
With that out of the way, let’s touch upon these new discoveries.
Most users will find the “Car” screen is pretty basic. All you get is a button to exit Android Auto, but Google may have bigger plans for this page. Turning on developer mode will result in the appearance of four new options: “Vehicle Check”, “Service History”, “Roadside Assistance” and “More Car Apps”.
These are all pretty self-explanatory. “Vehicle Check” will allow you to see your car’s current status. It’s in charge of checking for tire pressure, oil status, windshield fluid and more. On the other hand, “Service History” will keep a record on your vehicle’s maintenance track record. Lastly, “Roadside Assistance” helps get you out of unpleasant situations by aiding you when you face major issues.
In addition to adding these sections, Google made sure to create non-functional mock-ups of the interfaces within these apps. They are simply images, but it took someone’s work and time, meaning this is likely more than just something on the back burner.
After digging in deeper, it was discovered that many of the sensors listed within the Android Auto code are not in use, and could suggest some very interesting features to come.
Let’s take a look at the list:
- TemperatureFuel Level
- In Distance
- In Percentile
- Low WarningHVAC Data
- Current Temperature
- Target TemperatureGear Data
- Gears “First” through “Tenth”Driving Status
- Fully Restricted
- Limit Message
- No Keyboard
- No Video
- No Voice input
These are all sensors and situations the operating system is keeping tags on, or “listening to”. Things like the fuel level, odometer, RPM and gear data have no reason to be there… at least so far. Reading the temperature could help automate the AC, for example.
There’s also some wording in the legal writing that states the system will know if there is a passenger in the vehicle, effectively making it possible to unlock some features that would otherwise be locked while driving (for safety reasons).
All this information, put together, gives us hope that Android Auto will become more than just a glorified GPS and media system. The UI is great, voice actions are unbelievable and it’s a breeze to use. We just need some polishing, and making the system more thorough like these hidden gems suggest would be the perfect start.
What do you guys think of these new hidden features and characteristics? Are there any other creative uses you could find for them? Let us know in the comments below!