- An updated version of Google’s Android Auto software, which mirrors your phone’s display on your car’s screen, is rolling out now.
- It features a simplified interface that makes it easier to use.
- To get it on your phone, update your Android Auto app and select “Try the new Android Auto” from the settings menu.
Google released a comprehensive update to Android Auto that makes it simpler and safer to access your Android device while driving. Announced at Google’s I/O conference in May 2019 and just now hitting devices, the updated Android Auto sports a new look, but the redesign is much more than cosmetic.
Since its release in 2015, Android Auto’s interface revolved around a home screen that displays music and navigation information as well as other notifications. With the update, Android Auto now launches directly to your last-used navigation application (Google Maps or Waze) and starts playing audio from your last-used audio app. Users will also notice a bar at the bottom of the screen with buttons for home, notifications, and voice control, as well as a section for music controls. So yes, you can now control your music from any screen rather than having to go back to the music app. Less clicks mean more time focusing on the road.
Pressing the home button now opens an app grid (reminiscent of Apple CarPlay) featuring all installed Android Auto–compatible apps as well as useful Google Assistant features. Any icon with a voice-assistant symbol, including Calendar, News, Weather, and Notifications, prompts a Google Assistant briefing. For example, clicking on Calendar reads aloud the subject and time of your next three calendar events with subsequent prompts for further action.
When you open the music application, the space otherwise reserved for the aforementioned music controls transitions to show your next navigation instruction. If you’re not actively navigating, an icon remains to facilitate a one-touch swap between navigation and music apps.
Other changes are more aesthetic than functional. Android Auto now adapts to larger displays by moving the bottom bar to the left side of the screen and displaying a notification center on the right with date and time as well as navigation instructions. A new dark-colored look provides a cleaner appearance as well as less eye strain in low light.
After trying the updated interface in our long-term Mercedes-Benz E450 and Genesis G70, we were immediately impressed. The new look is familiar enough to not be confusing but different enough to feel fresh. Android Auto has languished behind Apple CarPlay for years, but with this update, it finally feels like a helpful solution to accessing your phone in the car rather than a cobbled-together distraction.
Update your Android Auto app and select “Try the new Android Auto” from the settings menu to give it a try.