Google’s new Desktop Head Unit lets developers test Android Auto apps without needing a car

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To make it easier for developers to test out apps designed for Android Auto, Google has released the Desktop Head Unit, or DHI, which effectively simulates the Android in-car experience on a computer. It’s a considerable step forward in car-based app testing, moving past the basic features of the simulator found inside the Android Auto SDK.

The DHI is installed on a computer, and convinces any USB-connected phone or laptop — running the Android Auto companion app — that it’s linked up to a car. The test app then operates exactly as it would when displayed on an in-car entertainment system.

Apps developed for Android Auto can be tested using the new Desktop Head Unit from Google

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This lets developers give pre-release apps a complete test run in a realistic environment, without the need to have an Android Auto-equipped vehicle nearby. The only requirements are the DHI, and an Android phone running version 5.0 Lollipop or later.

Google has provided instructions on how to get everything talking together correctly here, while you can find more information on Android Auto here.