Android Auto was released over five years ago by Google and has only received minor tweaks and updates in that time, and the first major redesign of the platform is here now. In case you had no idea, Android Auto is a mobile app developed to mirror features from an Android device to a car’s compatible in-dash information and entertainment head unit. The new version of Android Auto that Google is rolling out brings an updated layout, app launcher, a notification tab, new typeface, and dark mode by default.
It will start to arrive on Android phones across the world this week.
So how does Android Auto work? When an Android device is paired with the head unit, the system mirrors qualified apps from the device to the vehicle’s display, with a simple, driver-friendly user interface. Apps supported on it include GPS mapping/navigation, music playback, SMS, telephone, and web search, and the system supports both touchscreen and button-controlled head unit displays. Users are however encouraged to use the hands-free operation through voice commands is to minimize any driving distractions.
With the update, Android Auto looks and feels a lot more like your Android phone now, with big, colorful icons that better highlight all the things you can do rather than have you go hunting for apps under various tabs.
The biggest theme of the update is simplicity and reducing the amount of interacting you have to do with the car to get things done. This latest update makes sure that Google’s greatest asset to the car, Google Maps, is front and center.
Just as Google announced in May, the new Android Auto starts playing media and Google Maps as soon as the car starts and maps will also show suggested locations. If you already have a route planned on your phone, Android Auto automatically adds the directions and displays routing information.
The redesigned navigation bar is located at the bottom of the display and has been designed to let users interact with multiple apps. Meaning that wherever you are in Android Auto and following a route, the information is shown along the lower portion of a car’s display. You no longer will launch Spotify and wondering if you’re about to miss a turn while choosing a playlist. If you’re following directions, you can still easily pause or skip a song.
The bottom-right corner of the display features a notification button that contains all recent calls, messages, and alerts. You just need to tap the mic button next to the notification button and Google Assistant can help make calls, send messages, and read notifications.
Another thing is that Android Auto can now also use widescreen displays to give extra space for step-by-step navigation, media playback, and call controls. Changes that have been made to improve visibility include easier-to-read fonts and a new dark mode.
Overall, the design changes are meant to get users on the road faster and allow easier management of apps with fewer taps.