You’ve got to hand it to Plex, the software platform that aims to organize every single file in your media collection (and then some). The company has been consistently announcing improvements for users, seemingly on a monthly basis. And October 19 marks a big day for Plex fans who want to access their library on the go, while staying safe in the car: Plex for Android Auto now brings a simplified and safer Plex interface to cars that are equipped with the vehicle-friendly version of Android, whether from the factory, or in an after-market device, or on your phone.
Plex for Android Auto requires Plex for Android v6.6 or newer, and it will have to be unlocked, or “activated” as Plex calls it. Plex Pass users are already in the clear, but if that’s not you, you can always unlock Plex for Android via a one-time in-app purchase.
Once that’s taken care of, the only must-do step before you can start using the Android Auto interface, is to select the Plex Media Server you’ll be using for music playback — something which can’t be done in Auto mode. Oh, and before you ask, yes, this means that there is no support for photo or video content while using Plex for Android Auto.
Within the Android Auto app, you’ll now find the option to choose Plex from the list of supported audio services under the headphones icon. Options for selecting music are, by design, more limited than in the full Plex app, but there’s still enough to make it valuable:
- Playlists: all playlists existing on the selected Plex Media Server
- Recently Played: Recent Artists that were played from the server
- Recently Added: Recently added albums on the server
- Artist: List of artists from all available music libraries on that server
We’re a bit perplexed by a “four taps” rule, whereby you’re limited to four consecutive taps before you’re shown the “paused for safety” message, especially since Google removed this interaction limit on its own Google Play service, but at least if you’re running at least Android Version 5.0 “Lollipop,” you’ll have access to voice commands for controlling your Plex audio. There are commands to start different types of music as well as orders you can bark out to control the playback itself.
Unfortunately for iPhone owners, there’s still no word on when (if ever) Plex will get the CarPlay treatment.