The folks at Hyundai are probably feeling giddy right about now. The automaker is now officially the first to offer Android Auto and the first vehicle to get it is the 2015 Hyundai Sonata. The new technology directly integrates Android phones into the car system to offer information, optimum productivity and safety.
“Android Auto aligns with Hyundai’s core interior design principles of safety, intuitiveness and simplicity. We launched this highly anticipated feature on our best-selling Sonata, adding to our promise of value. With the launch of Android Auto, we provide more owners with the experience of cutting-edge technology,” says Dave Zuchowski, president and CEO of Hyundai Motor America.
The system went into development last year with a Google-led group called Open Automotive Alliance with Hyundai, Audi, GM, and Honda. It has since gone through rigorous testing to ensure safety and efficiency.
It connects Android phones that have the 5.0 “Lollipop” operating system or later through a USB port. Features are then available through the touch screen system, physical controls, and voice commands. The phone also locks to insure that drivers eyes are on the road and not on the little glowing screen.
“Within not too many years, this could become almost a ubiquitous technology in the industry. We have a great opportunity by being early because it’ll be a differentiator for us for hopefully quite some time. I think customers will very quickly start to see the benefit and see the reason to seek out a vehicle with this technology,” says Cason Grover, senior manager at Hyundai Motor America and who works on connected car technology.
It offers a host of activities including Google Maps, Google Maps, Google Now, message, phone calling, Google Play music and also other popular non-Google apps like iHeartRadio, Spotify, TuneIn, NPR, Stitcher, Skype, and TextMe.
The system utilizes the companion Android Auto app through Google Play that drivers are prompted to download the first time they connect their phone while the car is parked. Hyundai is offering a free update at dealerships for drivers who have already purchased a 2015 Sonata Hyundai with a Navigation system. Later this summer there will be a DIY download option as well.
Currently, Android Auto is only available on 2015 Sonatas but expect it to be available in the rest of the lineup later. Hyundai is also planning to offer CarPlay, the car integration system for the Apple iPhone.
While Hyundai is first to the Android Auto party, it certainly won’t be the last. Ford, GM, Honda, and Volkswagen, are hustling to join the club as well. So expect to see Android Auto and systems like it to become the new norm for in-car connectivity.