One thing that surprised me when looking through my Galaxy Nexus apps wasn’t the presence of Verizon’s bloatware, it was thew absence of something that’s become a standard on Android phones: Google Car Home. It’s the app that launched when you slide a phone into a car dock, featuring big, easily pressed buttons to help you stay focused on the road. When I looked for it in the Android Market, there was no sign, and navigating via the web version revealed that Google Car Home isn’t yet compatible with either the Galaxy Nexus, Ice Cream Sandwich, or both.
Of course, being an obsessive Android tinkerer I couldn’t simply let things lie. So I downloaded the latest version of Google Car Home on my DROID X, then copied the APK file over to my SD card, and eventually to my computer. Then I copied the APK over to the MTP root folder of my Galaxy Nexus. You can see where this is going. When I tried to install the APK via the Root Explorer file manager, it popped out an error message. So as a last ditch attempt, I activated root permissions and copied the APK file straight into my /system/app folder. Eureka! The app showed up in my drawer immediately, and Google Car Home works just fine, as far as I can tell.
Here’s the Google Car Home APK if you want to skip the roundabout or don’t have a spare Android phone. Just copy it into your /system/app/ folder using a root file explorer. To use the easy method you need to be rooted, but those with stock Ice Cream Sandwich will have to use ADB to manually move the file from your computer into the correct folder. Here’s a guide if you’re new to ADB.
All this is a little disheartening for Verizon Galaxy Nexus users, since the official Samsung car dock for the LTE version doesn’t use the three electrical contacts to automatically enter car mode like the GSM dock does. But the Google Car Home app is still much safer and easier to operate while driving, and features quick links to hands-free voice activation and maps. If you’ve got a Bluetooth-enabled car stereo, you can set Car Home to launch as soon as it makes the Bluetooth connection. And if you’re looking for a good, cheap universal car dock, I’ve had great results with the SGP Kuel S20.
Disclaimer: this app, and the process for installing it, are offered on an as-is basis. Android Community is not responsible if you use it to play Angry Birds in the middle of the highway and end up with some angry people… or worse.