Android Auto is still very much in its infancy and one of the hurdles to making it a hit is ensuring that app developers openly embrace the platform. Thankfully, Google understands this and has just taken a big step forward by introducing a new tool that will make Android Auto development more accessible. Dubbed the Android Auto Desktop Head Unit (DHU), this new tool is essentially an emulator that runs the full Android Auto experience on a desktop or laptop.
Google previously allowed some basic testing through simulators in the Auto SDK, but the DHU takes things a whole lot further. Not only can you hook up your phone to your PC and interact with the DHU just like you would a real Android Auto entertainment center, there’s also support for voice commands, touch interaction (if you have a touchscreen computer), and all the special functions a real Android Auto head unit would provide. In other words, the user experience is completely indistinguishable and makes testing and polishing of apps a breeze.
Of course, the DHU also supports a few interactions that wouldn’t be possible with a real head unit such as mouse integration (for those without touchscreens), the ability to run command line instructions, take screenshots, issue pre-recorded voice commands, and more.
The DHU is compatible with Windows, Mac, or Linux devices. For instructions on getting started, you’ll want to check out the Android Developer’s site. While this news benefits app developers first and foremost, making Android Auto easier to develop for should mean that non-developers types will benefit indirectly by hopefully seeing the number of Android Auto-supported apps increase.