It's quite some time since Google launched Android Auto -- around two years, in fact -- but adoption has been hampered by one little niggle: you needed a compatible car to take advantage of it. Today that changes.
Starting today, Android Auto is available as a stand-alone phone app that can be used to bring the tool to any car via an Android device. This means that older vehicles can now feel the benefits of Android Auto and use it to get directions, listen to music, and much more.
All you need to enjoy Android Auto is a phone running Android 5.0 or later, and some sort of dash or screen mount to fix your phone in place. An update to the app means that it can now be configured to start automatically when connected to Bluetooth, saving you the hassle of manually launching it when you get in the car.
Announcing the release of Android Auto, Google's Gerhard Schobbe says:
We know there are millions of older cars on the road that are not compatible with Android Auto, and many don't have a screen at all. We wanted to bring the same connected experience to these drivers too.
So today we're excited to introduce a whole new way to use Android Auto: right on your phone screen! This update allows anyone with an Android phone (running 5.0 or later) to use a driver friendly interface to access the key stuff you need on the road -- directions, music, communications -- without the distraction of things that aren't essential while driving.
Google says that Android Auto 2.0, complete with the 'phone experience', will be rolling out to more than 30 countries in the coming days. If you don’t want to have to keep checking the Play Store, you can use the Android Auto website to sign up for alerts about availability.