Android Auto hailed as the first “great” infotainment system

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Car electronics have always been a good few years behind that of the rest of the world. Thanks to their lengthy development and design time, technology planned for inclusion early on its design may be several years old by the time it hits the showroom floor. That’s why bluetooth technology only appeared in cars in recent years and CD players were still common place at the tail end of the ’00s. Today though the climate is very different.

Apple’s CarPlay has been out for some time and competitors from traditional auto-makers are undergoing intense development and thanks to new hardware standards from the likes of Nvidia, the development cycle of an infotainment system can be far shorter than it used to be. Perhaps then that’s why Android Auto was given such high praise from Wired, which called it the “first great” infotainment system ever.

That might seem like hefty praise that overlooks that of its competitors, but as the review points out the system’s ease of use takes it into a whole new category. Voice commands are understood near perfectly and it does a great job of handling texts and calls, all without the user needing to take their eyes from the road.

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Navigation maps are easy to read, though you can rely on the digital assistant to guide you there too.

It’s not the cheapest, still costing around $4,100 in the latest Hyundai models that were used as part of the review, but it’s not an insurmountable cost for those spending upwards of $20,000 on a car in the first place.

Other plus points include the fact that it’s incredibly easy to set up and involves simply plugging in your Android 5.0 supporting handset to the USB port and away you go. Menus are also simple to navigate and intuitive for those that prefer to skip the instruction manual.

Thanks to the ability to ask the system questions or provide open ended instructions, you can ask it to find the nearest location for a particular item, or the best place to eat in a your local area and it will give you suggestions, or navigate you straight to the nearest one if you are feeling confident. If you want to get more specific and tell it to take you to a specific junction or street, it can do that too.

There were a few issues, such as pulling up the contact list and occasionally starting the car with the phone plugged in, rather than adding it after the fact, would cause audio to not work, but for the most part everything worked great.

Now I’m jealous.

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Jon Martindale is an English author and journalist, who's written for a number of high-profile technology news outlets, covering everything from the latest hardware and software releases, to hacking scandals and online activism.