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  • Jason Rapp

Android Auto and CarPlay - State and Plans as of 23 March 2021



With the release of Android Auto (beta) and CarPlay for A Better Routeplanner, we wanted to give you a status of what's currently working and what's planned for each. To start with, we're pretty restricted on what we're allowed to show on the screen in CarPlay and Android Auto, and there are some technical hurdles that we've had to overcome to get these working.


Common to both, we've been putting much effort into improving the directions readout. There's still a lot of work to be done, but we think it's improved from where it used to be. One of the most challenging elements here is the variability of road data quality from OSM and nailing down the appropriate distances to give instructions.


Common Points

For both Android Auto and CarPlay, the plans use the settings set in the main app. In our initial release of each, we're targeting a basic feature set to get initial functionality out the door. As time passes, we'll add more and more features from the main app.


Initial

  • Planning from the car display and Siri / Google Assistant

  • Auto-Replanning when you leave the route

  • Directions

  • SoC predictions and display

  • Speed Limit display

Planned features

  • More Map styles and modes

  • Adding more settings as on-display toggles (EG: Avoid Highway/Toll/etc.)

  • Amenities Searching

We welcome feedback on any of these or suggestions on features you'd like to see prioritized.


Android Auto

We've just released an open beta (sign up on Google Play!). As always, we welcome feedback, and we'll work to improve it and add features as quickly as possible. The Android Auto portion of ABRP is a pretty unique part of our app, as it's running in a background service to keep it alive even with the screen off. In the future, we'll probably make it so this background service can run on Android even if you're not connected to Android Auto, so you can get voice-only instructions over your radio or even track a trip with ABRP.


We're still working out some kinks in communication between the background app and the main app, so please let us know if you see issues so we can solve them. It's otherwise working quite well, and the background/main app split led to a neat feature where you can have your passenger work out a new plan on the phone (like finding a lunch break) and then send it to Android Auto without interrupting the ongoing navigation on-screen.


Google's template is quite restrictive, and we've had to do some convincing to make even the tiny modifications you see in the release version. The State of Charge overlay on the right side of the screen uses the same prediction code that the main app uses, so with a live-data source, you will get very accurate predictions of your arrival State of Charge.


Finally, unlike CarPlay, there aren't many open map SDKs available for Android Auto yet, so you may notice that sometimes the text on the map is upside down, and the map is always top-down (no 3-D maps yet, but planned soon). We'll implement those as soon as vector maps become available.


Additional work needed

  • Resolve bugs in the communication between the main app and the background

  • Better maps

  • Alternative Chargers / Routes

  • Charger status on-screen for the upcoming charger

There's a lot we want you to be able to do from your car's screen, and of course, we have to work within the template and restrictions that Google provides. For example, we are not optimistic that we'll be allowed to show the driving chart on-screen as it will likely be too distracting. We'll try to implement this, but approval may be hard to come by.


CarPlay

CarPlay has its own restrictions and has been available longer than the Android Auto implementation. That's not to say we're done developing, though! CarPlay works more closely with the main app than Android Auto, so you'll see any plan you make on the main app transfer automatically to CarPlay. As we've developed Android Auto, we've added some features to the navigation instructions you'll see shortly in CarPlay (such as next-turn instructions for quick-succession turns).


In addition to the main initial functionality listed above, CarPlay already supports searching for alternative routes and chargers while driving.


In the end, we want the CarPlay experience to be as complete as we can make it, providing useful tools for EV road trips and even just driving around town. We welcome your feedback and look forward to making further improvements!

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