Android Auto update adds potentially most distracting app yet

Discord chatting is now available while you drive

Android Auto
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

There are a lot of ways to stay in touch while behind the wheel, thanks to smartphone apps running through the Apple CarPlay and Android Auto infotainment systems, and the latest to join them is Discord.

Android Auto support was added to Discord with a recent software update via Google’s Play store. The update is version 144.13 of the communication platform and it works in version 7.8 of Android Auto, as well as the latest version 8.0.

This may seem like a strange move, since Discord is much more than a simple chatting application like WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger or any other SMS texting app. Although Discord can work that way, it is mostly used as a group discussion platform, where users often contribute to multiple chats, each with dozens or even hundreds of members.

Incoming Discord messages are announced by Android Auto the same way as WhatsApp and text messages are. The driver can then have Google Assistant read out the message, then dictate a reply if they wish. At no point can the written message be seen, in a bid to avoid driver distraction. This works fine for individual messages, but we wonder how useful such a system will be when messages from multiple group chats come flooding in.

We can’t see this being particularly useful for Discord users who contribute to a number of large group chats on the platform, and suspect Android Auto support is only really useful for receiving direct messages from a select handful of close Discord friends. Discord chats can be busy places, especially when Google Assistant will interrupt your music, radio or podcast to read out each and every incoming message while driving.

All that said, it’s no bad thing to see another communication app find its way onto Android Auto, and we’ve no doubt its safe integration with can infotainment systems will be helpful to some users.

In the meantime, we’re still waiting for Google to roll out its much-anticipated ‘Coolwalk’ update, a major visual overhaul to the user interface of Android Auto that was promised before the end of the summer, but is yet to arrive.

Alistair Charlton

Alistair is a freelance automotive and technology journalist. He has bylines on esteemed sites such as the BBC, Forbes, TechRadar, and of best of all, T3, where he covers topics ranging from classic cars and men's lifestyle, to smart home technology, phones, electric cars, autonomy, Swiss watches, and much more besides. He is an experienced journalist, writing news, features, interviews and product reviews. If that didn't make him busy enough, he is also the co-host of the AutoChat podcast.