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CES takeaway: Android Auto
The 2015 experience of the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas is wrapping up, and it was a pretty great event. We had a good portion of our team on the ground for the week, bringing you all the best that CES 2015 had to offer. With so much to discover and experience, we had to break apart our round-up of the show into several parts.
Before we dive into our Android Auto coverage, I just wanted to thank you, our readers, for joining us on this adventure. We had a ton of fun, and we hope you did too.
Last June, Google officially introduced a number of new products and services at their Google I/O conference, most of which centered around the Android operating system. On that list was a streamlined version of the OS called Android Auto. Designed specifically to operate in the dashboard of your next car, 40 auto makers signed on to bring this system to life into 2015 and beyond
As it so happens, auto makers were a major vendor at CES, and as you can imagine, Android Auto was a major driving force behind smart and connected cars at the show.
One of the first names to come to our attention was Hyundai. Hyundai took Android Auto to a level that we perhaps always dreamed of, but didn’t think would hit this early in the game. With the name Blue Link, and in cooperation with Viper car alarms and starters, Hyundai has not only built Android Auto into their car, but went ahead and built an Android Wear app to go with it. We took the time to talk about Hyundai and Blue Link a few times, which you can see in short in the video below.
This might be a good time to mention that Hyundai’s Android Auto implementation, as with most others, is not currently the core of the software running. As you saw in the Hyundai hands-on video, Android Auto is an application within the Hyundai software. This is to be expected, as you still want your car entertainment and navigation systems to work, even if you leave your phone at home.
Playing fair to Android and iOS users alike, Volkswagen came to the show with their promise of Android Auto and CarPlay support for upcoming cars. Sadly, the only vehicle specifically named was the Golf, but we expect most of their lineup will see the update in coming years. Volkswagen’s new system will also feature something called MirrorLink, which will allow for direct integration with HTC, LG, Samsung and Sony Android phones.
Best of all, Volkswagen is also working on Android apps so that you can lock and unlock doors or check on your battery level from the comfort of your living room.
Aside from the Android Auto highlights of the show, CES 2015 had a good number of other auto makers on board as well, we saw innovations for everything from infotainment systems through to self driving cars. A few of the major names to make headlines were BMW with their accident avoidance tech and GM, or Chevrolet depending on how you look at it, with their new Volt electric car. Players like Dodge, Mercedes and Tesla were also on hand, but as cool as their stuff was, it just didn’t make it onto our ‘Android radar’ as much as the rest, at least not this time.
Another player that made us stop and look twice, was Ford. Ford has long been a leader in connected car technology, at least in the ‘cars under $50,000’ segment. I won’t spoil anything, but we took a good look at their tech over here.
As an added bonus, we caught wind of a new smartwatch built by LG at the show. At first we were a little perplexed, and you are probably wondering why we’re talking about it in an Android Auto article. I go further off course by mentioning that said smartwatch was found to be running WebOS, but the thing is, this smartwatch was commissioned by Audi.
We are eagerly looking forward to learning more about this watch, particularly how well it integrates with Android, as it has been called the rich and beautiful sibling to the LG G Watch R. More than this, we can’t wait to see how (if) it integrates with Android Auto in the car.
The idea of purchasing a new car equipped with Android Auto is very exciting, but what if a new car is not in your immediate future? No worries, a handful of common car audio manufacturers were at CES showing off their new Android Auto wears. In general, we’re looking at stereo head units built with Android Auto, and we suspect something will appeal to you with players like Kenwood, Panasonic and Pioneer in the game.
But that’s not all, a brand that you may not have heard of has made a bit of a splash as wall, Parrot announced their new RNB6. RNB6 offers up a 7-inch touch panel to users, with a few dedicated physical buttons on the side for good measure. Running a base layer of Android Auto software, enhancements have been added to support CarPlay and the device can even hook to your car’s OBDII connector, to bring in live metrics of your drive, such as fuel level and consumption and so much more.
One last thing, did we mention that the Parrot RNB6 also packs a dash camera, and support for a rear camera? That’s right, Parrot may have build the best aftermarket Android Auto head unit around, so far.
Until next year
With CES 2015 under our belts, it’s time to look forward to what comes next. As far as Android Auto is concerned, the best is yet to come. We’ve all seen Android Auto in the news, watched the videos, read the articles, but the real fun starts now. We are very much looking forward to 2015 and all that it brings to the road.
Before you run away, be sure to check out our other CES takeaway experiences, including:
What was your favorite Android Auto news out of CES 2015?