brings its disappointing app to Android Auto

We're not quite sure how Android Auto launched without an app for audiobooks, but such is the case. That's changed now that has added support.

But the experience ... is not great.

Audiobooks are hugely popular. Always have been, way back to the days when we kept a half-dozen cassettes in the car to get through a whole book. (Ask your parents, kids.) So they make perfect sense for Android Auto. You can get through an entire novel in a matter of hours — sometimes read by the actual author, other times by a celebrity. It's a great thing. Unfortunately, the Android app is not a great thing.

Start with the phone experience. There's no single-sign in, and no support for Google Wallet or PayPal or anything. So onboarding is already clunky. You can browse titles easily enough, and there's a decent amount of free material to listen to — samples and entire books — even if you don't log in. That's kinda nice, actually. And you can navigate the free stuff from Android Auto.

Once you're logged in on your phone — and this took me a few tries to actually get it to stick and not log me back out — you can get to work. Mostly. You get 1 credit a month for $14.95 — a free book a month. So I used mine to download Harper Lee's "Go Set A Watchman" since it was first on the list. Once I finally got it to download — and this was after I gave up on trying to get any of the free books to download on my phone (I have no idea what was up with that) — I was able to plug in and listen through Android Auto.

The playback experience is mostly OK. There's the play/pause button, and 30-second forward and reverse buttons, and that's it. Spartan, but OK. But those forward and reverse buttons are a little messed up, too, looking like they're designed for some other pixel density. They're just way too skinny and don't look like other 30-second skip buttons we've seen. (And Android Auto itself should take some of the blame here — that sort of thing absolutely should be standardized between apps.)

All in all, it's an OK experience. It works, and it's a decent addition if you have an subscription.

Phil Nickinson