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Like Apple CarPlay (quick review), Android Auto enables smartphone users to connect their mobile device to their vehicle’s supported in-vehicle infotainment display — and by so doing, get their favourite Android apps and Google services to show up onscreen.

We recently tested the Ford Everest and Nokia 5.3 for a week including Ford Sync’s infotainment system which supports Apple CarPlay and Android Auto phone mirroring. You simply connect your Android smartphone’s USB charging cable to one of the two USB’s in the front cabin of the Everest to start Android Auto.

It allows you to get driving directions using much better, always updated apps such as Google Maps and Waze (with real-time traffic alerts) or do things like talk to send a text message (dictation), which is handy and much safer than using your smartphone while driving. You can even make hands-free phone calls. Google Assistant is also on board to do handy internet search queries whilst driving such as navigate to…or nearby tourist destinations or kids entertainment and can be done like on your smartphone, simply by saying Hey Google.

We also liked using apps such as Spotify and Deezer for streaming music or narrated eBook content, or favourite NBA podcast for instance, instead of being limited to radio, USB-loaded tracks, or music stored on our phones streamed via Bluetooth. It allows for a lot more variety and presents the opportunity to listen to new music that is tailored around your personal taste. Here, the steering wheel-mounted controls of the Ford Everest come in quite handy, allowing you to skip tracks, control playback, and answer or reject incoming phone calls without taking your hands off of the steering wheel while driving.

All-in-all, Android Auto is a lot more convenient, easier to use, and safer than any hands-free kit or most in-vehicle infotainment systems.