With a new model year of vehicles on the way later this year, Google is trying to gather developer support for its Android Auto platform. The latest effort is a blog post on the Android Developer blog explaining how messaging apps will work in cars.
Much like how developers can add a small amount of code to enable Android phone apps for Android Wear watches, it doesn't appear to take much effort to get phones and cars talking to each other. Messaging is a smart place to focus since such communications can be distracting -- if not illegal in many places -- if you have to interact with your phone when behind the wheel to read or reply.
Google says that with Android Auto, messaging apps are still running on the phone but are controlled by the vehicle software. Essentially, with the right code to extend a messaging app, incoming communications will appear on a Android Auto dashboard display. Voice replies are supported but from what Google has shown in this particular example, outgoing messages could require a screen press, which can take your eyes off the road.
Hopefully, that's not an option that developers use, due to the safety factors. One of the main reasons I bought a Moto X handset last year and haven't even considered upgrading to a new flagship phone, such as the highly regarded Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge, is due to a complete hands-free messaging app.
Motorola includes its Moto Assist software that can automatically detect when you're driving and read incoming messages aloud during that time. You can also reply to messages by voice, all without looking at or touching the phone's screen.
I don't even see the messages when using Moto Assist, mainly because my phone is sitting in a cup-holder and out of sight. Part of me wishes that Android Auto did the same -- not displaying messages at all -- because it's all too tempting to look away from the road to read a screen or tap a button.