There’s good news for Android Auto users as updates have been announced for the in-car phone mirroring system GoogleIO 2022 have unveiled a redesigned user interface and better functionality.
And it’s about time.
Google has a number of Android Automotive OS and Android Auto Update announcements on Thursday, and the one that really caught my attention was the new UI for the later system, which allows the interface to seamlessly adapt to any screen size in your car – as shown in the GIF above.
That means those using Android Auto – where you connect your smartphone to your vehicle’s display either wirelessly or via a USB cable – will see the system making full use of the available space. Something it currently doesn’t.
Years of frustration
Look, I love Android Auto. It has helped me navigate the roads not only in my native England but throughout Europe and North America for years.
Google’s clear navigation and real-time traffic make driving abroad so much easier, while the integrations with Spotify and WhatsApp keep me entertained and connected.
It’s not a perfect system and I’m constantly frustrated when I connect Android Auto in a new car and it only uses part of the available screen, often leaving part of the display redundant.
With advances in in-car technology, accelerated by the rise of electric vehicles (EVs) boasting ever larger screen sizes, there’s a lot of real estate to play with, and Auto is finally about to take advantage.
Even in my personal car, a Kia Niro, I’m excited for Android Auto to fill the entire central display, as it currently fills about two-thirds, leaving the last third unused.
Auto’s ability to intelligently adapt to whatever screen size and orientation it’s viewed on allows it to display more app features at once, reducing the distraction of switching between them while providing larger, clearer graphics.
The new interface prioritizes “core user needs,” meaning you’ll see your other commonly used apps, like podcasts, music, and audiobooks, alongside mapping.
Once the update is rolled out, Android Auto will also share relevant, contextual alerts and suggestions, such as: B. the option to share your arrival time with others and to reply to messages or missed calls with a single tap.
This Android Auto update won’t solve all the bugbears, but it’s a big positive step in the right direction for me.
Google says the update is rolling out globally “just in time for summer,” meaning it should be imminent (May/June 2022).
We’ve reached out to the search giant to request further clarification on this, but a spokesperson has been unable to give us a firm release date for the update.
Automotive OS gets video boost
It’s not just Android Auto that’s getting new capabilities, however, as Google has also announced new video apps for its Android Automotive OS.
The Automotive OS is built right into vehicles and doesn’t require a smartphone, giving you direct access to essential Google apps and more via the Play Store, all on the in-car screen.
The pool of vehicles currently running Android Automotive OS is still relatively small, but GM, Ford, Nissan, Volvo, Polestar, Honda, and Renault currently offer it in select models.
And soon (no exact date yet) you’ll be able to watch videos on three new apps being added to the platform. Tubi, YouTube and Epix. They’re only available when you’re parked – whether you’re charging your electric vehicle or waiting for curbside pickup.
A little further down (again there is no fixed date yet) you can also surf the Internet from the comfort of your car – if you are parked. These are features we’ve seen in Teslas before, but with Google bringing them to its in-car operating system it means more drivers will have access in the future.