Anker Roav Bolt in hand

While it would be incredibly convenient for every car to be equipped with Android Auto, that’s just not the reality. The system makes it safer and easier to interact with our devices on the road, but unless you buy a car with Android Auto integrated,  you’re usually fairly limited in what you can do with your phone on the road. This is quite a shame because our smartphones can make the driving experience so much better.

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Anker saw this problem and has teamed up with Google to create the Roav Bolt, a smart car charger that brings the Google Assistant to nearly any car stereo.

The Roav Bolt connects to the car stereo through either an auxiliary connection or Bluetooth and connects to your smartphone to utilize the power of Google Assistant. There are two far-field microphones on the front of the charger, which are used to pick up your voice, and it can cut out ambient noise from things like the car stereo. If you prefer not to use the “Hey Google” keyphrase to activate Assistant, there is a physical button on the front that will call the Assistant into action.

Anker Roav Bolt plugged in
Anker Roav Bolt in call

You can effectively think of the Roav Bolt as giving your car Android Auto capabilities without the screen. Google told me that a large number of consumers mount their devices to their dashboard while driving, so they’ve optimized the Assistant connection to utilize this. If you ask Google Assistant to route you to a location via Google Maps, it will launch Maps on your device while the screen is still locked.

Calls will also be routed through the Roav Bolt, since its far-field microphones are likely better or just better positioned than your mobile device in your car. The Bolt can also read out your messages through your speakers and let you respond with your voice. Effectively, Google wants to highlight just how powerful hands-free control can be thanks to the Google Assistant, and the car is probably one of the most powerful places for it to exist.

Of course, the Roav Bolt works as a standard USB-A car charger as well. There are two USB-A ports on the device that will charge the devices in your car, quite convenient since you’ll need to keep your phone charged for the system to operate.

The Roav Bolt costs $49.99 and is available in Best Buy stores as well as BestBuy.com and Walmart.com. It will be available at physical Walmart and Target locations in the coming weeks. While the Bolt was designed and optimized for Android devices thanks to a more deeply native Assistant integration, it will also work with iOS devices in a limited beta.

What are your thoughts on the Roav Bolt? It seems only natural to integrate Assistant into your car experience, and it’s nice that you’ll now be able to do it as long as you have either an Aux port or Bluetooth in your vehicle.

Next: The Volvo Polestar 2, the first car with Android Automotive, is now official