The voice command support is integral to the Android Auto experience, allowing users to interact with their apps without taking their eyes off the road.
Photo: Bogdan Popa/autoevolution/Google
The updates received by the Google app (responsible for the Google Assistant integration on Android and Android Auto) are often the culprit, and it looks like the same thing is happening right now for some users trying to interact with their apps hands-free.
Google Assistant can’t understand what users say despite the Android Auto screen correctly reproducing the spoken command by filling in the text input box. In other words, Google Assistant knows what they say but can’t process the command, eventually returning an error saying, “sorry, I didn’t understand.”
Users who encountered the problem claim that Google Assistant works correctly when the mobile device is not connected to the head unit to run Android Auto. As a result, it all seems to be a problem exclusive to Android Auto, with users explaining that the app has become completely useless because they must rely on touch input for everything.
Using touch to interact with the screen is a big no-no for drivers. This interaction method involves taking their eyes off the road, and depending on what they want to do (such as changing the song in Spotify), the process could take up to several seconds. Therefore, the broken voice command support is a major problem that could make using the application dangerous.
The typical workarounds available in the Android Auto world don’t seem to produce an improvement. Clearing the cache and removing the data of Android Auto and the Google app does not fix the issue, with Google Assistant still unable to process voice commands. It’s unclear if downgrading to an earlier Google app build restores the expected functionality.
The problem doesn’t seem exclusive to a specific phone or car brand. I’m seeing bug reports from Samsung and Google phone owners in various car models, and the only common part is Android Auto and the Google app.
The latest Android Auto version at the time of writing is 10.6, currently rolling out to users through the Google Play Store. Updating to this new release doesn’t fix the voice command bug, and this could be a sign that Google must ship a patch in the Google app. A new Android Auto beta build should receive the go-ahead next week, so it won’t take long until we find out for sure who’s to blame for the new voice command blunder.