Google releases Android Auto app, now all you need is a compatible car or stereo

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Android Auto is finally here. On Thursday morning Google announced the Android Auto app’s availability in the Google Play store for devices running Android Lollipop. 

We’ve been waiting eagerly ever since we tried Android Auto at Google I/O in 2014, and it looks like it’s just barely making it out before this year’s Google I/O (May 28-29 in San Francisco).

Before you get too excited, all this app release means is that the last piece of the Android Auto puzzle is in place. But you still need the other pieces: an Android device running Lollipop, and a car or in-car system that’s compatible with Android Auto. The app, on its own, doesn't really do anything.

Car companies like Volkswagen have been announcing Android Auto compatibility for 2015 and 2016 model-year vehicles, so some new cars are ready and waiting. Not all of us are in the market for a new car, however, so your other option will be installable systems. Android Police spotted Pioneer’s new 8100 NEX series on sale last weekend, for instance; it's the first third-party system compatible with Android Auto. 

Why this matters: Android Auto is Google's way of making sure the Android ecosystem stays with you even when you're in the car—and in a safer way than if you were juggling your phone while driving. There's still a lot to do—like make more apps that you can use safely in the car—but with this debut, Android Auto finally joins Apple CarPlay and MirrorLink in the car-smartphone connectivity derby.

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