According to Google, Android Auto is now available from “more than 50 [automotive] brands” on in-dash screens. However, seeking to accelerate adoption and reach the broader market of drivers who don’t own one of those compatible cars, the company is introducing an Android Auto experience for smartphones.
It makes a version of the Android Auto in-car experience available to those without in-dash displays:
[W]e’re excited to introduce a whole new way to use Android Auto: right on your phone screen! This update allows anyone with an Android phone (running 5.0 or later) to use a driver friendly interface to access the key stuff you need on the road ― directions, music, communications ― without the distraction of things that aren’t essential while driving.
Whether your phone is connected to a compatible car display, or placed in a car mount on the dashboard, Android Auto brings your favorite apps and services into one place, making them accessible in safer and seamless ways. You can bring your music with you with apps like Spotify, Pandora or Google Play Music, and make calls or send messages with hands-free voice commands. And of course, get turn-by-turn directions to your next destination with Google Maps.
If using a Bluetooth enabled car mount, the app will automatically fire up when it’s paired with the mount. Google adds that it’s also beefing up OK Google voice commands so that drivers can access maps, music and messaging in the Android Auto app. (Can’t you access all those things independently now via voice command?)
Google says the “phone screen experience will be rolling out in the coming days to more than 30 countries where Android Auto is currently available.” It requires an Android phone and, as mentioned, Android 5.0 or later. There’s no iOS version.