The 2015 Hyundai Sonata is the first vehicle to feature Google Inc.’s new Android Auto interface. This is a huge achievement for Hyundai, which had worked hard to be the first to offer a system that may be available in countless vehicles in the near future as consumers look for cars that work with their smartphones.
It’s also a tremendous win for Google, which has gotten ahead of rival Apple Inc, which offers CarPlay as the iPhone interface. Hyundai’s senior manager Cason Grover, who works on connected-car technology, is confident that once customers try Android Auto once, they won’t be willing to not have it in their cars again.
As an example, he mentioned that as he entered his car to go to a business trip, Android Auto asked him if his destination is at the airport so that the trip can be set there. The system understood that his flight was leaving within two hours after it accessed his Google calendar. Grover added that it won’t take too long before this system will become “a ubiquitous technology in the industry.”
He said that by being early, Hyundai will have something that will differentiate it from others for quite some time. He believes that customers will quickly realize the benefits and will actively look for a vehicle that features this technology. In early 2014, the Android Auto project was launched with the coming together of Hyundai, Audi, General Motors, and Honda to join a Google-led group known as the Open Automotive Alliance.
Last June, Google presented Android Auto at its I/O developer conference. Google described it as a “safer, easier way” to listen to music apps, make calls on the phone, and use Google’s mapping service while driving. In addition, this system supports several third-party apps like Spotify streaming music service. It doesn’t stop there as more apps are coming. It’s easy to use Android Auto.
The user will just have to physically plug a smartphone into the dashboard. When the Android Auto icon lights up on the car’s screen, the smartphone’s screen is locked, reducing the temptation to tinker with it while driving. Numerous automakers have made a deal to use Android Auto. It’s expected that within one year, Ford, GM, Honda and Volkswagen will start selling cars with this interface.
The Sonata is the first car to already have Android Auto installed in it fresh from the showroom but since March, the interface was already available in Pioneer’s aftermarket navigation systems. It took some time for the system to be in the production cars for different reasons. The cars had to undergo rigorous quality checks and it was difficult to make a change on an assembly line mid-year.
However, if you’re an Apple fan, you can opt for your Sonata to have CarPlay, Apple’s in-car interface for the iPhone. This will be available soon, according to Grover. Sonata buyers must get Hyundai’s 8-inch navigation screen sold as part of a technology package if they want to have Android Auto in their vehicle.
This raises the Sonata’s base price from $21,975 to at least $27,450 (which includes shipping costs). Those who already have 2015 Sonata with the navigation system can go to a dealership to receive a free software update to activate Android Auto. Hyundai may have Android Auto available online so that Sonata owners could download the update and install it themselves.