Google just proclaimed that Android Auto is ready for the masses... or at least the masses that feel like picking up a separate Pioneer head unit and own a device running Android 5.0 Lollipop. In case your memory of the search giant's in-car plans is a little fuzzy, Google wants you to be able to connect your phone to your stereo with a USB cable -- once that's done, you can issue voice commands, sketch out routes and fire up apps like Spotify or Soundcloud. The Japanese car gadget maker got the ball rolling earlier this week with the release of a trio of Android Auto-compatible car receivers (they actually play nice with Apple's CarPlay too), though they might be a hair too pricey for would-be experimenters to take the plunge on.
Consider the following: All three units have 7-inch touchscreens and will plays CDs and DVDs in addition to all the mp3s you've horded over the years. Still, Pioneer's least expensive model sells for $700 and lacks a built-in GPS while and pricing tops out at $1,400 for the flagship AVIC-8100NEX and its real time traffice warnings. Meanwhile, Google pushed the official Android Auto app into the Play Store earlier this afternoon, giving users access to the final piece of the puzzle. Granted, Google's plans to invade existing cars (instead of just making their own) has taken a little longer to realize than it expected. Let's flash back to the search giant's 2014 I/O developer conference -- Google brass said at the time that it wanted to get Android Auto baked directly into in-car entertainment systems on the road by the end of 2014, a deadline that came and went without so much as a peep. That's not to say that partners like Honda, Audi and Hyundai haven't been working on baking Google's long software tendrils into their car cabins, but hey -- today's announcement is just the first real step the company is taking down a very long road.