There’s good news for Android Auto users, as updates to the in-car mirroring system announced during Google IO 2022 revealed a new-looking user interface and better functionality.
The time has come.
Google released a number of Android Automotive OS and Android Auto update announcements Thursday, and what really caught my eye was the newer user interface for the newer system, which allows the interface to seamlessly scale to any screen size in your car — like shown by the GIF above.
This means that those who use Android Auto – where you connect your smartphone to your car’s screen either wirelessly or via a USB cable – will see that the system takes full advantage of the available space. Something he is currently not doing.
years of frustration
See, I love Android Auto. It has helped me navigate the roads not only in my home country of England, but across Europe and North America for years.
Clear navigation and real-time traffic from Google make driving abroad simpler, while integrations with Spotify and WhatsApp keep me entertained and connected.
It’s not a perfect system, and I’m always frustrated when I hook Android Auto into a new car and it only uses a portion of the available screen, often leaving a good portion of the screen redundant.
With advancements in in-vehicle technology, accelerated by the slight increase in electric vehicles (EVs) featuring ever-increasing screen sizes, there’s plenty of real estate to play with, and Ouo is about to finally take advantage of this feature.
Even in my personal car, the Kia Niro, I’m looking forward to Android Auto filling the entire center screen as it fills roughly two-thirds, leaving the final third unused.
Auto’s ability to intelligently expand to any screen size and orientation it is viewed on will allow it to display more application functions simultaneously, reducing the distraction of having to switch between them, while providing larger and clearer visuals.
The new user interface will prioritize “basic user needs,” which means that along with mapping, you’ll also see your other commonly used apps like podcasts, music, and audiobooks.
Once the update starts, Android Auto will also share relevant contextual alerts and suggestions, such as the option to share your arrival time with others and respond to messages or missed calls with a single tap.
This Android Auto update won’t solve everyone’s problems, but it’s a huge positive step in the right direction for me.
Google says the update will be rolled out globally “just in time for summer”, which means it should be close (May/June 2022).
We contacted the search giant asking for further clarification on this, but the spokesperson was unable to give us a confirmed date for the update to be dropped.
Auto OS gets video enhancement
Not only did Android Auto gain new skills, Google also announced new video apps for Android Automotive OS.
Auto OS is stored directly in vehicles and does not require your smartphone, giving you direct access to the main Google apps and many more via the Play Store, all on the screen in the vehicle.
The range of vehicles currently running Android Automotive OS is still relatively small, but General Motors, Ford, Nissan, Volvo, Polestar, Honda and Renault currently offer it on select models.
And soon (there’s no exact date yet), you’ll be able to watch the video on three new apps being added to the platform; Tubi, YouTube, and Epex. It will only be available when you park your car – whether that’s while charging your electric car or waiting in a curbside pickup.
A little off the line (again, there’s no exact date yet), you’ll also be able to surf the web from the comfort of your car – when it’s parked. These are the features we’ve already seen in Teslas, but with Google bringing them to the in-vehicle operating system, that means more drivers in the future will have access.