Google Assistant Will Be Integrated Into Android Auto

For almost three years, Android phone users have had an easy way of — safely — accessing many of the functions on their devices while driving. By connecting their Android phones to their cars, they could use voice commands or a driver-friendly touch display interface for navigation, entertainment and communication apps.

Those services were all part of Android Auto, an app developed by Google that is compatible with more than 400 models of cars from more than 40 brands, including Ford, GM and Volvo.

At CES 2018 earlier this month, Google delivered some good news for users of the app: Google was beefing up the app with the addition of Google Assistant, the high-functioning voice recognition technology that will now be able to service drivers.

A series of videos from Android, demonstrate some of what Google Assistant will offer drivers, all while allowing them to keep their eyes on the road.

In one video — “Plan your day” — a driver asks the system what her schedule is for the day. Google Assistant informs her of a 10:00 a.m. meeting and a 1:00 p.m. lunch date. She also asks her Google Assistant to navigate her to work and the system immediately pulls up turn-by-turn directions.

Entertainment apps are also easily engaged with Google Assistant via Android Auto. In another video, a driver requests to listen to her Discover Weekly playlist on Spotify. When she doesn’t recognize the artist, she asks Google Assistant who the artist is and receives a concise response.

It’s a long list of useful services, although not a particularly groundbreaking one.

As noted in stories from The Verge and Android Police, the user experience will not change drastically. Google Voice search had powered much of the functionality in earlier versions of Android Auto, but now the app will receive the complete functionality possible with Google Assistant.

While asking for directions and dictating messages were possible without Google Assistant, the addition does present some new possibilities. It will be easier to establish personal preferences. You won’t need to ask Google Assistant to play a song “on Spotify,” as it will already know that is your preferred app for music. The ability to control Internet of Things (IoT) devices is also new. For example, users will be able to adjust the lights in their home from their car. Some users are excited about the change.

“Actually, the lack of full [Google Assistant] in Android Auto has been driving me insane,” writes commenter Quinton in the top-voted comment on the Android Police post. “I keep asking how late a store is open, for example, and voice search just gets massively confused. This will be better.”

There’s plenty of competition in the in-vehicle voice assistance space, as hands-free functionality is more important in an automobile than perhaps any other setting. By enhancing what Android Auto can do with the addition of Google Assistant, Google has made a small but important improvement to a product that is already popular among Android users.

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