Android Auto Exits The Garage With A Total Overhaul, Everything You Need To Know
Google has been testing a major redesign for Android Auto over the past few months, and it's being finalized today. The new interface makes better use of space on your car's display, and you'll have better control over media playback. Google Assistant also takes center stage to provide contextual suggestions during your drive.
Android Auto is integrated into almost all modern Android phones—all you have to do is plug the phone into a car that supports Android auto to get started. The next time you do that, you might have the updated version of Android Auto, which is integrated into Google Play Services. You'll know immediately if you do; the update adds split-screen functionality even for smaller displays, with the map adjusted to be closer to the driver. The secondary app, like a music player or dialer, will sit on the other side.
Assistant can also squeeze in there, creating a three-way split with (allegedly) useful suggested actions. For example, it can remind you of missed calls, offer to share your navigation ETA, and provide quick replies to messages. Google says the most requested feature is also included in this update: a seekable progress bar for music and podcasts. Google has tried to keep media management simple in Android Auto because it's a major source of distraction while driving. Adding a real progress bar could increase distraction, but the people want what they want, and Google's giving it to them.
There's one more big addition to Android Auto, but it's limited to Samsung and Pixel phones (our Pixel 7/7 Pro review), or rather, it will be as soon as it's available. Google says that owners of these phones will soon be able to place calls in Android Auto via WhatsApp, rather than using the standard phone app and dialer.
This is all for the phone-based Android Auto, which is by far the most common way of using Android in vehicles. However, there are a few cars with Google built-in (sometimes called Android Automotive). These cars, like the Volvo EX90 and Polestar 3, are getting a few special goodies. Renault's Android vehicles are getting a built-in Waze app, and HD maps are coming to Volvo and Polestar. These maps include precise road details like signs, lane markers, and road barriers to integrate with the car's self-driving technology.