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Automotive Computing (R)Evolution - The Android Head Unit Build - Apps That Rock!

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  • Automotive Computing (R)Evolution - The Android Head Unit Build - Apps That Rock!

    No matter what operating system you choose to control your automotive infotainment, software plays a heavy role in how the driver controls the solution. With Android, most every knows about the popular Google applications like Voice, Maps, and the Music, but someone venturing to install android as the heart of their car computer may not realize the power of the Google Play store in creating a terrific Android-Powered experience. The purpose of this post is to recognize some of the software products that provide functions to an automotive setup. So without further delay...

    Car Home Ultra

    I've mentioned this piece of software in prior posts, but it deserves recognition as a valued car Android software centerpiece. Car Home Ultra is a terrific solution for someone looking to access a host of android applications in a touch-friendly manner. Designed similarly to the Windows-based front ends we've all grown to love, Car Home Ultra may be the current best option to those looking for that experience. The buttons are large and touch friendly, allowing for 5 screens of 3x3 application launch buttons which can be customized to your liking. The colors can all be uniquely altered to match driver preference, and items like Speed, Weather, and Time/Date are all handy. Car Home Ultra can even be set to replace the Home launcher in Android. You can set the software to load on boot and use it exclusively to manage your android functions.

    Tablet Talk

    The would be hands-free solution for the ODROID. Short of creating a hands-free call link, Tablet Talk can do it all. The application must be installed on both your ODROID, and Android smart phone, but once the Bluetooth connection is made your Android car computer can send, receive, and manage your SMS messages. Users can select ringtones, receive text pop-up screens, and reply to texts via on-screen keyboard or voice. Tablet Talk will also ring for incoming calls, display incoming call prompts, and mute audio playback during a call. Keep in mind that with the ODROID, it can not play your caller through the audio system, based on lack of Bluetooth HFP profile support, but the app is still great!


    Anyone who has ever thought about automating an Android has probably heard about Tasker. There are many ways in which Tasker can come in handy when installing an ODROID in the car. While not the most touch-friendly application, Tasker can be used to automate tasks large and small. Want to dim your screen at a certain hour? Tasker can handle it with ease. Tasker can also tackle small tasks with the ODROID, such as reducing power consumption by underclocking the CPU when a Bluetooth phone is not connected. Tasker can lift heavy duty scenarios too with built in scripting support.

    MortPlayer Music

    I used to really love Google Music... until I tried to use it in a car. The interface is beyond chaotic to try to navigate, and if you're looking to play media from local storage like an external USB drive you better have a computer science degree. Enter MortPlayer Music. Built for touch from the ground up, MortPlayer can give you access to all of your music on local media in a clean and easy to use manner. MortPlayer does not rely on a database for music sorting, it relies on the user to have a folder structure in place to make the most out of the music library. MortPlayer has built in support for playlists, ID3, cover art, and more. It can also be heavily customized with themes, movable buttons, and color options.

    Other Android apps that rock include...
    Tunein Radio Worldwide radio stations at your fingertips. Nice touch interface.
    Torque Pro Incredible OBD-II/CAN all in one solution. Heavily customizable and Touch-friendly.
    Waze Crowd Sourcing navigation and live traffic information, Waze can many times serve as a free-replacement to Google Maps
    Beyond Podcast A great podcast downloader and manager allowing for streaming and offline support of your favorite shows
    PL2303GPS MockLocationProvider If you have a Prolific-based GPS device such as the BU-353, you need this app to make the device work with Android!
    Paragon Ntfs Mounter Users playing songs from external based storage will appreciate this app which will auto-mount USB media at boot or when its plugged in.

    Have an Android app you'd like to add, please do! Senior Tech Blogger (Want a product reviewed? Contact me.)
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  • #2
    how to modify navigation bar with some button like volume + and - like the screenshot you have send???


    • #3
      there are some volume widgets out there that may help if you don't have a hardware solution which is what i was originally using while doing my tablet build, however afterwards i put a dedicated single din headunit behind it which allowed me to have hardware steering wheel controls.

      one app that i've been hoping to implement is iOnRoad. It uses the devices camera as well as other sensors to give collision avoidance warnings as well as lane departure and speed warnings, black box recording etc.


      • #4
        I know there was some app I saw that let's you build a frontend using images in android. You can assign button presses etc or assign apps. I've been looking for the link ands can't seem to find the install. I know someone with a Chevy did it since his fe had a Chevy logo on it.

        I would also like to add two alternate apps to those listed above.

        Instead of tasker, automateIT works really well and the GUI is easier to use in my opinion.

        Car Widget Pro is another alternate to Car Home Ultra. CHU looks too blocky in my opinion. I use CWP with HD Widgets and the look seems more refined to the 1995 look of CHU.

        Originally posted by severino View Post
        how to modify navigation bar with some button like volume + and - like the screenshot you have send???
        Click for my projects
        2006 F150 with removable Nexus 7

        2006 Mustang with indash CarPC (Retired)


        • #5
          Zooper widget pro will allow you to make a fullscreen widget to make your own custom front end
          an example of my front end created in zooper

          Media Utilities beta is a must for all audio widget control
          Car Home Speedometer will put a gps based speedometer widget on your home screen
          Music Visualizer will put a great and customizable spectrum analyzer on your home screen as a wallpaper


          • #6

            I've been using a Nexus 7 as my frontend for a little over a year now. I love it. I looked at your video and several of the issues you highlight such as an onscreen volume control and offline music have a workaround. There is an application in the Play Store called Volume Control that works great. It acts as an onscreen volume slider. You can configure it to be vertical, horizontal and basically any offset you want on the screen. A lot of us with the N7 use Timur's USBROM for both charging and USB OTG. I have a 500GB 2.5in USB drive hooked to mine and rarely do I use an internet connection for music. The good thing about Timur's USBROM is that you can take your entire collection with you AND charge the device at the same time. You can view his thread here. Also the USBROM allows you to hook up other peripherals such as OBD II, Keyboard, Mouse...anything USB. His kernel supports many devices. You can also retain reverse camera if you were to purchase a FEBON100 device. If you have any specific questions about the possibilities, please visit Timur's forum or you can send me a PM. Good luck on your projects.



            • #7
              Sounds like a great rom. I have a newer 2013 N7 and I have seen this mentioned so I wonder if he is going to do the same with the newer one.


              • #8
                Per my response in another thread, Timur has decided not to continue development on the USBROM, so it's not available for the Nexus 7 2013. Which sucks.


                • #9
         ElementalX 2.3 Supports OTG on the 2013 Nexus 7
                  Front / Rear RE Audio RE6.5C + RE Audio DTS-500.4
                  Sub RE Audio SEX10D4 + RE Audio DTS-1500.1
                  MOCOSO Case + MiniTouch DD + Asrock E350M1


                  • #10
                    VegasGuy, that is incorrect. It will be released in May of this year for the 2nd gen Nexus 7.