Android Auto is getting a trusty new companion and a bunch of exciting new features

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Android Auto is getting a trusty new companion and a bunch of exciting new features

Despite technically skipping this year’s Omicron-infected Consumer Electronics Show, Google absolutely bombarded the tech world yesterday with exciting announcements originally designed for a large Las Vegas audience.

We could even go so far as to say the search giant had one of its strongest CES presences ever… in its physical absence, unveiling (or rather teasing) a whole bunch of potentially groundbreaking, decidedly life-changing, or simply extremely useful features scheduled to hit every platform from Android to Wear OS, Chrome OS, Google TV, and Windows by the end of 2022.

The answer to your wireless prayers

Although Android Auto can technically facilitate a wireless connection between your (Android 11 and up) phone and your car, the list of vehicles natively supporting the technology remains depressingly short, which means many drivers looking to get valuable assistance (and some much-needed entertainment) behind the wheel have to rely on a good old fashioned USB cable… in 2022.

Starting January 30, however, you will be able to score a handy and seemingly easy-to-use alternative for this barbaric connection process at just $89.95.

Enter the Motorola MA1 wireless car adapter, which aims to do exactly what you think and nothing more. Namely, “adapt” your USB-enabled Android Auto vehicle to wirelessly connect to your phone using Bluetooth every time you get into your car.

Obviously, you will still need to rely on a USB port to activate wireless Android Auto functionality, but you can say goodbye to your trusty cables and maximize the in-vehicle freedom of your handset. 

Just remember to keep your eyes on the road and register your interest for the non-Motorola-made MA1 dongle on this Motorola website to ensure your place at the front of the line. Naturally, it’s unclear how many units that little-known SGW company will manage to manufacture and deliver to early adopters around the world, and you might not want to miss your chance here.

More apps, more convenience, more power

As for exactly what Google is preparing to deliver on the auto front this year, we should probably kick off our little roundup today with Android Auto’s upcoming Lyft and Kakao Mobility driver apps aiming to make life easier for, well, everybody who uses the two services.

 

Then you have a bunch of extremely cool stuff coming (relatively) soon to vehicles with built-in Google technology, starting with “select” Volvo cars. Among other things, those bad boys will allow you to download a multitude of popular apps ranging from Sygic and Flitsmeister to ChargePoint, PlugShare, SpotHero, and ParkWhiz from a special version of the Play Store baked into the infotainment systems of said cars right from the factory.

Even more… unusually, the same vehicles will be capable of playing YouTube content without you having to lift a finger while also letting you adjust and activate various settings and features like lane keeping assist sans pressing any buttons or doing anything that doesn’t involve your voice.

Speaking of voice assistance, Google is also partnering with Volvo to make it easy to remotely control your car directly from your smart home. While you obviously won’t be able to drive your vehicle from a distance, your voice will be enough to lock, unlock, warm up, and cool down your car without getting anywhere close to it.

Pretty much like everything else, these game-changing remote actions are set for a limited launch in the foreseeable future and an expansion to more cars and car brands at some point down the line.



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