Navigating on the road has never been easier, and some of the newest cars even roll off the production line with Google Maps preinstalled. But what if you prefer Google’s other navigation app, Waze? You may not need to use your smartphone for much longer, because cars running Android Automotive are starting to get Waze support.
Waze has announced (opens in new tab) that a dedicated Waze app has already started rolling out to two Renault cars in Europe: the Austral hybrid and the electric Megane E-Tech. There’s no word on what other cars may get Waze, or when, but it sounds like this is the start of a much wider rollout for Android Automotive OS.
Android Automotive is a version of Android designed to be used in your car. It replaces the infotainment software you’d find in other cars, offering access to your Google account, Google Play apps and deep Google Assistant integration. That last one is particularly important, since it allows Assistant to control in-car systems when commanded — with the same quality you’d get on your phone.
The key thing to remember is that it’s independent from your phone, unlike Android Auto or Apple CarPlay. So while both apps have supported Waze for some years now, Android Automotive has been missing out. A dedicated in-car app means the growing number of cars running Android Automotive can take advantage of Waze’s unique navigation system — rather than relying on Google Maps.
Waze announced that the Android Automotive app will come with all the same Waze features that makes it so popular among drivers. That includes real-time routing to get you to your destination as fast as possible, road alerts and all the same settings and preferences they have on their phone. The only real change is that you get a much bigger display to see everything on, and the fact you don’t need to mess around with cables or wireless phone connections.
Renault cars are not available in the United States, so it’ll be a little while before American drivers get to enjoy this new way of accessing Waze. It’s not clear which cars might get Waze next, but there are plenty of options with Android Automotive and Google Play on the roads.
Polestar and Volvo are the most notable, with all recent cars running on an unmodified version of the software. GMC and Ford also sell cars running the software, while BMW will start offering Android Automotive on some of its cars from March 2023. It’s likely these cars will get Waze at some point in the near future.
That’s going to be a big boost for existing Waze enthusiasts, while other drivers are going to have to decide whether they want to switch to Waze or carry on using Google Maps. Which is no easy decision, considering how similar the features are across both apps.