First car powered by Android Auto arrives

Hyundai is the first automaker to offer Android Auto in production vehicles.

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Android Auto in the 2015 Hyundai Sonata Hyundai

The first production car model integrated with Android Auto has rolled off the shop floor -- and it is a Hyundai 2015 Sonata.

On Tuesday, the South Korean automaker announced the launch of Android Auto within its production vehicles, starting with the 2015 Sonata with Navigation model.

If Android smartphone users own a 2015 Sonata with navigation capabilities, they can now ask their dealerships to download the vehicle infotainment system for free. Android 5.0 Lollipop or later is required on paired smartphones to integrate Android Auto properly into the 2015 Sonata with Navigation.

Android Auto is Google's answer to infotainment systems, designed to rival Apple's CarPlay , which is based on the iOS ecosystem. Android Auto offers hands-free, voice-activated smartphone application use on the road including Google Maps, Now, messaging, phone calling and music. A number of third-party apps are also compatible with the infotainment system, such as iHeartRadio, Spotify, TuneIn, NPR, Stitcher and Skype.

The South Korean automaker says working with Google and including Android Auto in the firm's vehicles improves safety. Hyundai claims that during daytime hours, roughly 600,000 drivers at any given time are using their smartphones or using electronic drivers across the US while driving -- and the infotainment system helps "keep drivers' eyes and attention on the road" by integrating the same functions of devices into the car's dashboard.

"Furthermore, the smartphone's screen becomes "locked," so drivers are not tempted to look down and interact with their phones directly while Android Auto is in use," Hyundai says.

While owners of existing 2015 Sonata with Navigation models can snap up the software update for free from dealerships, later in summer, other Hyundai owners can download the software on to USB drives for use with navigation ports to make their systems Android Auto compatible.

Other vehicles due for an Android Auto upgrade this year include the Sonata Sport, Eco, Limited, Sport 2.0T and Limited 2.0T models.

Dave Zuchowski, president and CEO of Hyundai Motor America commented:

"Android Auto aligns with Hyundai's core interior design principles of safety, intuitiveness and simplicity. We launched this highly anticipated feature on our best-selling Sonata, adding to our promise of value. With the launch of Android Auto, we provide more owners with the experience of cutting-edge technology."

Hyundai is not the only automaker interested in adopting Android Auto. Compatible vehicles are slated for release by a number of other manufacturers, including Audi, Bentley, Honda, Ford and Nissan.

Read on: Six Clicks: Top Apple CarPlay infotainment apps

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