How often do you find yourself struggling with your phone while you're driving? It is not safe.
You reach over to your smartphone for everything. If you want to make a phone call or answer one, you reach for your phone. That brief second of distraction can have dire consequences.
But it's not just phone calls that distract you, or your children and grandchildren. Who hasn't sent a text message or read one while driving? That's illegal in many states, but not all. Even where it is illegal, so many people reach for their phone anyway, to make calls, send texts and messages, get directions, get restaurant reviews, and so much more.
Fortunately for anyone using an Android smartphone, version 5.0 or higher, you can transform your car into your phone. Android Auto has a simpler, cleaner look than your smartphone. So, instead of scanning dozens of apps for the one you want, there are just a couple of easy-to-see functions on Android Auto screens.
The best part? Many of Android Auto's functions are voice-activated. So, you can speak commands to use almost all the smartphone features you just can't live without.
Keep reading to learn about the apps you can use from your car and find out how you can get Android Auto for free in your car.
Android Auto's home screen
Whether Android Auto is on your smartphone or on your car's display screen, it's organized to be simple. The idea is to let you quickly see messages, reminders and more.
The home screen, for instance, has three images at the bottom of the screen. One is for directions, another is for phone calls and texts, and the other is for music. Touch one of them for the function you need.
Plus, you can see large displays for information at a glance. If you have your map giving you directions while a message comes in, for example, you can see both. (See photo below.)
Note: Find out how you can get an unlimited data plan for your car.
Google Maps tells you where to go
How did any of us get anywhere before apps like Google Maps? You just tell it where you want to go and, suddenly, it's talking back to you. You get clear directions, from point A to point Z, and all points in between.
With Android Auto, tap the directions icon on the bottom of the screen and tell it where you want to go. Google Maps will direct you, plus alert you to traffic problems and more.
Google Play Music
Tap the headphones icon, and you can listen to Google's on-demand Google Play Music. Its catalog is 40 million songs strong and growing.
Calls and Texts
You never need to reach for your smartphone while driving. Instead, use your voice to tell it to call, text or send a message to your spouse, friend or anyone else. Plus, you can set up Android Auto to send an auto-reply while you're driving. "I will call you back. I'm driving."
With Android Auto, just like with your smartphone, speak a command and many times Google will be able to help you. Start by saying, "OK, Google." Then, speak a command and let Google do the work. You stick to watching the road.
You can also access dozens of the apps you use on your smartphone with Android Auto. Those include messaging apps like WhatsApp and Kik, music apps such as Pandora and Spotify, video calls like Skype, and many others.
Two ways to get Android Auto
Your car may have come with an Android Auto on its dashboard display screen, or you may have purchased a stereo with a display screen. You will need the Android Auto app. It's free in the Google Play Store.
Or, add the Android Auto app to your smartphone. When you're driving, mount your phone where it's easy to see.
Note: For both your car's Android Auto display and your Android phone's app, you'll need to have Android 5.0 or higher. Not sure which version you have? Depending on which phone you have, you'll find it this way or something similar: Settings >> About Phone >> Software Information.
Speaking of how versatile your Android can be, here's how to use your Android device as a desktop PC
One of the greatest advantages of an Android device is that it functions a lot like a PC. But did you know there's a way to use your Android like an actual desktop? This trick is something all Android users need, especially if you frequently use your phone for email, streaming or even business.