The Number One Google Maps Alternative Is Moving Closer to an Android Automotive Launch

Google is betting big on Android Automotive in the long term, and it’s easy to see why. As compared to Android Auto, Android Automotive OS offers deeper integration of Google services, including Google Maps and Google Assistant.
Android Automotive in the Polestar 2 10 photos
Photo: Polestar
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While Android Auto requires an Android phone to mirror the UI on a compatible head unit in the cabin, Android Automotive is installed from the factory and is the one powering the infotainment experience behind the wheel.

Android Automotive doesn’t require a smartphone, and thanks to the integration of Google services, it offers more advanced capabilities.

Google Maps, for instance, can access battery level information and therefore be able to tell if drivers can reach their destination without a recharge. On the other hand, if a recharge is required, the navigation app can automatically suggest a route that includes a charging station, thus making the experience overall a lot more convenient for the driver.

Needless to say, Google Maps is the preferred navigation app on Android Automotive, but just like on Android Auto, Google is calling for developers to bring their own apps to the platform. In the last months, several high-profile apps made their way to Android Automotive, including Spotify and others.

Android Automotive in Polestar 2
Photo: Polestar
And now it looks like the release of another major app on Android Automotive is just a matter of time.

Waze is working on Android Automotive support, and as it turns out, the development is making good progress. The Google-owned company has confirmed on the official UserVoice page that the Android Automotive support is in the works, so Waze is now just one stage away from making its way to the platform.

Waze features typically need to go through several stages before they are released officially. It all starts with currently not planned, with the features that could one day be part of the Waze arsenal then moved to under consideration. Once the company decides to start the work on a specific feature, it’s promoted to on the roadmap, and once the development starts, the status is updated to we’re working on it. The next and final stage is now available.

Waze support for Android Automotive is now “in the works,” so it’s all just a matter of time until this highly anticipated update is released. As far as I know, the internal work on bringing Waze to Android Automotive actually started earlier this year, so the project is most likely in a much more advanced stage today. Waze confirming that support for Android Automotive support, however, is a sign that the development is making progress.

Android Automotive on the 2022 Hummer EV
Photo: Screenshot from GMC Hummer EV channel
As for an ETA as to when Waze could eventually become available on Android Auto, no such information exists at this point. Most likely, however, the Mountain View-based parent company (Waze is owned by Google) is aiming for a 2023 release, so expect more information on this front at some point next year.

For the time being, Google Maps continues to be the number one navigation app offered to Android Automotive users, though alternatives do exist. Sygic GPS Navigation, for example, is also available on Android Automotive, but given it’s available with a premium subscription, it goes without saying that many people just decide to stick with the native Google Maps.

Android Automotive is slowly but surely gaining market share, and this is certainly good news for Google, especially as rival Apple is working on an upgraded version of CarPlay due in late 2023. The new-generation CarPlay is essentially an alternative to Android Automotive, coming pre-fitted in certain vehicles and offering more advanced capabilities, such as support for all displays inside the cabin, including for the ones on the dashboard.
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About the author: Bogdan Popa
Bogdan Popa profile photo

Bogdan keeps an eye on how technology is taking over the car world. His long-term goals are buying an 18-wheeler because he needs more space for his kid’s toys, and convincing Google and Apple that Android Auto and CarPlay deserve at least as much attention as their phones.
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