Drive smarter and safer with these Android Auto tips

Most of the infotainment systems that come with cars are terrible. Voice recognition feels like it’s from the 1980s, and the navigation scheme would fail most usability tests.

Android Auto was supposed to fix that. Problem is, automakers have been driving in the slow lane when it comes to actually building it into their cars. So Google opted to take matters into its own hands and update Android Auto to operate in a standalone mode that lets you run it on your phone.

Android Auto is quite good, and genuinely improves the in-car experience. If you’re tired of having a dumb car, or just frustrated that your smart vehicle isn’t that brainy, here’s why you should get revved up with Android Auto.

Stay focused

If nothing else, Android Auto does one thing well—reduce potential distractions from using your smartphone while driving. It’s not a light matter, as it’s often way too tempting to glance at your phone or watch to see just who texted you.

The first key to reducing phone distractions is the interface. The Android Auto home screen features Google Now-like cards with the weather and suggested navigation options based on your account information. If you touch one of the destinations it’ll launch navigation to that destination. Or you can swipe it away if it’s no longer relevant. You have to re-tool your thinking slightly from the way stock Android works, but it’s easy to do after a little time with the app.

 

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See full story at www.greenbot.com

Drive smarter and safer with these Android Auto tips

Most of the infotainment systems that come with cars are terrible. Voice recognition feels like it’s from the 1980s, and the navigation scheme would fail most usability tests.

Android Auto was supposed to fix that. Problem is, automakers have been driving in the slow lane when it comes to actually building it into their cars. So Google opted to take matters into its own hands and update Android Auto to operate in a standalone mode that lets you run it on your phone.

Android Auto is quite good, and genuinely improves the in-car experience. If you’re tired of having a dumb car, or just frustrated that your smart vehicle isn’t that brainy, here’s why you should get revved up with Android Auto.

Stay focused

If nothing else, Android Auto does one thing well—reduce potential distractions from using your smartphone while driving. It’s not a light matter, as it’s often way too tempting to glance at your phone or watch to see just who texted you.

The first key to reducing phone distractions is the interface. The Android Auto home screen features Google Now-like cards with the weather and suggested navigation options based on your account information. If you touch one of the destinations it’ll launch navigation to that destination. Or you can swipe it away if it’s no longer relevant. You have to re-tool your thinking slightly from the way stock Android works, but it’s easy to do after a little time with the app.

Where Android Auto is most in handy is dealing with messages. When you receive one, Android Auto will read it aloud. It’ll then offer to let you dictate a reply. All of these steps can be handled without actually touching the phone, which is kind of the whole idea behind an infotainment system.

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See full story at www.greenbot.com

Google brings Android Auto to the phone

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Earlier this year, Google announced its plans to bring Android Auto, its phone-centric in-car infotainment platform, “to every car” by launching it as a stand-alone Android app, too. It’s taken a while, but the company today launched an update to the Android Auto app for — well — Android that makes good on this promise. Even if your car isn’t Android Auto compatible, you can now get all the benefits of Android Auto without the cost of a new mid-size sedan.

So what’s the point of that? Android Auto on the phone provides you with a simplified interface that combines directions, music, and incoming messages into a relatively distraction free experience. That’s essentially the same interface you would see on an in-car display with Android Auto support. Android Auto works with popular apps like Spotify, Pandora, Google Maps and others.

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See full Story at techcrunch.com

Dash’s Smart Driving App – A “Fitbit For Cars” – Arrives On Android

dashmobile

Like several of the “connected car” products on the market, Dash’s hardware involves an OBD device you can purchase from either within the Dash mobile application or the Dash homepage. The Dash software will also work with any Bluetooth-enabled OBD device, if you happen to already have one, or you can choose from two types of devices Dash’s homepage points to: generic devices found on Amazon for $10 and up, or a premium OBD LINK LX which is a steeper $69.

With Dash, the improvement also includes a focus around safety and overall smarter driving. In the case of the former, while the app is in “in transit” mode, it will actively warn you through auditory alerts when something goes wrong (e.g warning you that you were breaking too hard, or other bad behaviors). But instead of just being an annoying robot “backseat driver,” Dash gamifies the experience, pitting you against friends or other nearby in a competition to earn the better “drive score.”

Meanwhile, similar to Prius, the app will inform you while driving of your fuel economy, allowing you to make adjustments in response.

By: Sarah Perez

See full story at techcrunch.com

 

How to Get the Most Out of the New Google Maps

Google_Maps-1-androidabilityGoogle Maps rolled out a massive update that added better offline maps, improved navigation and Uber integration.

But while the update is huge, many of the best new features are subtly tucked away and easy to miss. Here’s our guide to Maps’ best new features, and how you can take advantage of them:

Navigation improvements

Navigation has long been one of Google Maps’ core features. With the 3.0 update, Google has enhanced the service by adding several improvements to how routes are displayed, including better route guidance and more accessible route information.

Navigation now includes lane guidance, which lets you know whether you are in the correct lane, and gives drivers a heads-up when it’s time to move over. In the U.S., lane guidance is available for highways and local roads in “major metropolitan areas.” Outside of the U.S., this feature is available for Canadian highways and non-highway roads in Japan.

Google maps app screenshots

Google added several improvements to navigation and how routes are displayed within the Maps app.

IMAGE: GOOGLE

Google also improved the way routes are displayed within Maps, making it easier to view route details. After selecting a route, users can now view the estimated travel and arrival time, as well as total distance, while in navigation mode. And all maps now include a scale bar to help estimate distances.

Taking public transit? Plan your route

Google Maps is a mainstay for many who rely on public transportation to get around. Google has now made transit directions even better by adding new ways for users to plan their route.

Users can plan routes based on desired departure or arrival time, or choose “last” to see when the last available transit will be. This feature, available under the “options” menu,” is particularly handy in cites such as San Francisco where public transportation doesn’t run all night in many areas.

transit directions Google Maps provides new options for public transportation that allow users to choose the last available route, or compare their route with Uber.

IMAGE: GOOGLE

Additionally, when you search for transit (or walking) directions, the results now surface estimates for an Uber ride if you have the app installed. “Get an Uber,” appears at the end of the list,” along with an estimate of how long said Uber ride will take. Selecting this option opens the Uber app where you can request a ride.

Get better search results

Search results have also been fine-tuned in Maps to give users more control over the results, and to make it easier for them to find what they’re looking for.

When searching for restaurants, bars and hotels, users can now filter search results by price, rating and whether or not an establishment is currently open.

filter results

Google Maps now allows you to filter search results by rating, price, and whether or not an establishment is currently open.

IMAGE: GOOGLE

To take advantage of the new feature, simply tap the filter button in the search bar or the results page, and select the desired filters. Unfortunately, the app doesn’t save filter preferences, so you will have to apply the filters again with each new search.

Google also added a series of features that make it easier to search for destinations, including voice-enabled searching, which can be activated by tapping the microphone icon in the search bar. Maps also now integrates with your device’s contacts, so you can search for destinations based on information stored in your address book.

by Karissa Bell

See Full Story on mashable.com

How to change your location settings in Android

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Sometimes it’s best to hide your location in Android

When you first set up your Android smartphone you’ll be asked about location services, and whether you want the phone to use them. Google has its own services, and sometimes your carrier will have its own that you’ll need to approve as well.

That’s just part of the deal, though. There actually are a few other options for location services in Android. And they can all affect your security.

Let’s take a quick look.

Photos and GPS tagging

Camera GPS

This is one of those settings that ends up being a cautionary tale on Facebook every now and then. But it’s also a setting that you need to be consciously aware of.

Smartphones give you the ability to attache a location — GPS coordinates, actually — to the pictures you take. That lets you do cool things like arrange pictures in albums by location, or it lets Google+ stitch together “stories” of your trips. Geo-locating images in and of itself is not a bad thing. But where you can get into trouble is when you broadcast sensitive locations to the world. A picture like “Look at this really expensive thing I just bought” that has the location of your house attached to it probably isn’t a good idea.

(Another option is to download an EXIF editor and manually remove the location information from specific images.)

Setting your location mode

Android location

Android actually has three discrete settings for location. You can find them also at Settings>Location. Here’s where you set how accurate you want location reporting to be. In addition to the obvious ramifications of an app knowing exactly where you are, there’s also the matter of battery life. Here’s how it breaks down:

  • High accuracy: This uses the GPS radio in your phone to get its exact location from satellites, and it also uses nearby Wifi and cellular networks.
  • Battery saving: This mode only uses Wifi networks and mobile networks to get its fix. It won’t be as accurate, but it’ll help your phone last longer.
  • Device sensors only: This only uses the GPS radio to find you. It may take a little more time to get its fix, because it’s not using nearby Wifi and mobile networks to get your general location first. It also will use more battery.

by Phil Nickinson
See Full Story on androidcentral.com

How to get the new Google Maps with voice commands in navigation

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There’s a big change coming to Google Maps when the next version of Android, Android 5.0 Lollipop finally appears, but there’s still plenty of time for new additions to be made before we reach that point.

The latest update to Google Maps bring biking elevations for the heartbustingly energetic amongst you (or those that want to avoid hills altogether), and there’s also voice controls in navigation, so you don’t even need to take your hands off the wheel to find out just how far it is to go when a backseat driver asks ”are we there yet?”. Further voice commands include turn queries and toggling traffic and voice navigation on or off.

AndroidPIT Google Maps Elevation Voice Command
”Speak now or forever hold your peace”. I like that Google thinks cycling over 1000 km from Berlin to Paris will only take two and a half days. / © ANDROIDPIT

The update to version 8.2.0 will happen automatically in the days to come, but if you’re not the waiting kin then you can grab the Google Maps v8.2.0 APK direct from our friends at Android Police. As always, the APK is signed by Google and you can feel safe and secure installing it. Just make sure you have Unknown Sources enabled in your security settings (and then uncheck it once the APK is installed). Happy trails!

What do you think of the new Google Maps? What features would you like to see introduced?

by Kris Carlon 

See Full Story on androidpit.com

Put your phone front and center with this steering wheel mount

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If you like to use your phone’s GPS capabilities to help you navigate to your destinations, here’s a universal steering wheel mount from Allputer.com that looks easy to use. This mount uses a rubber strap that wraps around your steering wheel and offers a clip with jaws that open a max of 75mm, allowing it to work with a wide variety of phones from the iPhone to larger phones like theSamsung Galaxy S5.

I’m always a little leery of posting news and reviews for phone accessories that strap to your vehicle’s steering wheel. It seems like whenever I do, at least one or more people will throw up their hands and run around screaming that it’s a horrible location to strap something. But, I figure that if you’re old enough to drive a car, you’re old enough to make your own decisions. Just don’t blame me if your phone ends up smacking you in the head if you get into a collision.

The Universal Car Steering Wheel Mount / Holder is priced at a very reasonable $2.95. For more info about this product, visit Allputer.com.

See Full Story on the-gadgeteer.com