Google’s Car Home Updated, No Dock Required

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When the Nexus One and Motorola Droid hit the scene we all had high hopes regarding their cool car docks. The Nexus Dock was somewhat revolutionary using Bluetooth in the Dock to talk to Bluetooth in the phone, thus reducing the number of physical connections to just just a few metal contact points.

What was cool were the “magic gold dots” on the bottom of the Nexus One. These, when paired with matching dots on the Car Dock and Desktop Dock provided power to charge the device without having to chase down your microUSB cable and plug it into the device.

Both devices shipped with a new app called Car Home which started automatically when the device was placed in the Car Dock. This app provided a slick user-interface that was finger-friendly and provided all the apps that you’d need while driving a car — and none of the apps that could prove to be an unwarranted distraction.

Later the app was updated to a grid-based layout (it had previously been a radial-swooshey thing). I wasn’t particularly keen on the new design, but it still worked. What it didn’t do was let you customize the layout or items — you couldn’t drop a Waze shortcut on the page to use it over Google Maps Navigation.

Today that all changes.

carhome wallpaper

Starting today, you can now customize the background, add shortcuts, rearrange the tiles, and are no longer required to own a dock to use it.

Okay, sure, you didn’t have to own a dock to use the app, but you had to remember to manually launch the app when you got in your car. That was a pain. With this new version you can now choose to start the app automatically when you come in range of a pre-configured Bluetooth device (such as your car’s hands-free kit). Simply select “Settings” from the Car Home screen and select which of your paired Bluetooth devices you want to use as the trigger to automatically launch Car Home.

carhome shortcuts

Additionally, Google is making it simpler for Android developers to write new applications and modify existing apps to be compatible with “Car Mode”. This becomes important as apps which support “Car Mode” will show up in a new “Car applications” category within Car Home.

The new version of Car Home is available for Android 2.2 devices free from the Android Market (search for “Car Home”). Keep in mind, at this time the new Car Home app available for Nexus One and Motorola Droid. T-Mobile’s new G2 comes with this version of Car Home out of the box, but can’t see it in the Market.

(Source: Google Mobile Blog)

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About The Author
Joe Levi
Joe graduated from Weber State University with two degrees in Information Systems and Technologies. He has carried mobile devices with him for more than a decade, including Apple's Newton, Microsoft's Handheld and Palm Sized PCs, and is Pocketnow's "Android Guy".By day you'll find Joe coding web pages, tweaking for SEO, and leveraging social media to spread the word. By night you'll probably find him writing technology and "prepping" articles, as well as shooting video.Read more about Joe Levi here.