Android Auto Wireless Gets RCS, Group Messaging Support, UI Improvements, Require Android P Devices

Android Auto Wireless has been announced back at CES, and last month, Google has introduced both generations of the Pixels and the Nexus 6P/5X could now project to a compatible head unit wirelessly. Now, according to the press release from Kenwood, all devices running Android 9.0 P and later will be able to wirelessly project Auto.

While Google’s Android Auto and Android Automotive are slight variations on the same theme and that makes it easier for people to get information and also make or receive calls when driving, all while staying safe. Perhaps be said for Apple’s alternative, CarPlay. Still, Google keeps on working on and has today announced changes to both Android Auto and Android Automotive.

In a press release meant to provide its wireless Android Auto-compatible infotainment systems, Kenwood let slip when more phones will work in wireless mode:

For other device manufacturers, wireless Android Auto will be implemented with the adoption of Android OS 9.0 or higher.

The real news, though, is centered on Android Auto, where users can look forward to full RCS messaging support being tied into Google Assistant. This one alone should make group messaging on the go a breeze, something that has been seriously bad thus far. Beyond messaging, Google is also adding better support for media search, making it possible for “media apps to directly integrate their results into Android Auto.”

There’s a user interface refresh as well, spicing things up a little.

For example, browsable content is placed front and center as soon as you open up an app, enabling you to easily recognize and quickly start listening to songs and podcasts.

For example, browsable content is placed front and center as soon as you open up an app, enabling you to easily recognize and quickly start listening to songs and podcasts.

A new deal has been made with Volvo will also see Android Auto built natively into the interface of some of its vehicles. The cars will get the benefits of running Android P without the need for a phone to be paired in order to work. Both Volvo and Google have announced that Google Maps, Google Assistant, and most importantly, the Google Play Store will be coming to Volvo’s Sensus infotainment system.

Volvo Cars’ partnership with Google will further enhance the way Volvo customers engage with and interact with their cars. Apps and services developed by Google and Volvo Cars are embedded in the car, plus thousands of additional apps are available through the Google Play Store that is optimized and adapted for Android-based car infotainment systems.

Since the next generation of Sensus will run on Android, new apps and software updates will be available in real-time and can be automatically applied. This allows future Volvo cars to react to customer needs and offer drivers up-to-date information and predictive services.

Here is a support page to see all compatible phones. This list will continue to grow as OEMs rollout Android 9.0 to its devices. With all the power of Android Auto but without the need for an Android phone to be paired, this solution could eventually be the best move Google has made in the world of in-car systems yet.

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