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Android Auto Beta is now open to everyone, but be careful

Image for article titled Beta-Testing Car Software Sounds Like a Bad Idea

Photo: Florence Ion / Gizmodo

If you are driving a car that supports Android Auto, Google has opened one beta testing program to try the new features before everyone else. Once you have selected the beta, you can help Google test the features of your specific device and vehicle and share feedback to help the company improve the product.

Part of the charm of being one Android user is that you have access to software and apps before everyone else. It is a clear advantage if you know what you are dealing with and can cope with the relative instability in your technical life.

But I have lived with Android 12 Beta for a few months on a secondary unit, and although it is relatively stable, it is very obviously a work in progress in progress. Apps crash and sometimes do not start at all. Imagine having to deal with this while driving, with one hand on the steering wheel and the other reaching for the screen in an attempt to redirect you through narrow streets you have never seen before.

Writing that section gave me a sincere physical reaction, as I remember the stress I have experienced in similar situations. There have been instances where I ran a beta version of an app and it stopped working while I was trying to access my phone. I use Android Auto on my phone as the car’s infotainment system since my dashboard is too complicated to try to replace and replace with the right hardware. I pulled over at the first highway exit to handle my smartphone while trying to get somewhere. Granted, the problem was not with Android Auto, but with something in the background. The point is, I’m addicted to that interface when I’m behind the wheel, and anything that disturbs it will immediately waste my focus.

These scenarios contribute to distracted driving, such as the CDC defines as “anything that takes your attention away” from the road. This includes texting, eating, talking on the phone and adjusting the navigation system. I’m sure it also includes me browsing Spotify to get the right song to sing along with while I travel home. Android Auto was originally designed to help eliminate some of the causes of distracted driving by enabling the assistant to do it for you. But when the assistant can not facilitate, it is up to you to take over and control the system.

Beta is probably stable, given that Google has opened it to everyone, and if there are problems, the company has an overview of how to deal with them quickly. Part of the deal to choose beta is that you offer feedback, and there are forums available to escalate a problem quickly. You can always choose to opt out again if it is too sparkling for daily use.

Men mthe advice is to steer clear Android Auto beta if it’s the only navigation software in your car. Some cars have infotainment systems with various launch vehicles and apps available for use, in addition to the Android Auto option. If this is your case, it’s at least one backup solution. But if you’re in a situation where Android Auto is the only thing available for maps and answers the phone hands-free, stick to what’s stable. At the end of the day, it is the safest option when you are behind the wheel.

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