Google revamps Android Auto

Google has announced it’s rolling out a major overhaul to Android Auto, its in-car infotainment system. The changes are designed to make it easier than ever to navigate, stay connected, and entertain yourself in the car.

The new design, unveiled at the recent CES consumer electronics show, prioritizes simplicity and driver focus. A clever split-screen layout keeps essentials like maps, music playback, and incoming messages constantly visible, eliminating the need to switch between apps or dig through folders. This clever adaptation to any screen size ensures a smooth experience across different car models.

But the changes go beyond aesthetics. Google Assistant gets a boost with “smart suggestions,” offering timely reminders for missed calls, quick arrival time sharing with loved ones, and instant access to your favorite tunes or podcasts. And speaking of tunes, a long-awaited feature finally arrives: a seekable progress bar for music and podcasts, letting you skip ahead with a tap.

For those who can’t bear to let their messages go unanswered while behind the wheel, on-screen shortcuts for replies and calls to favorite contacts are a welcome addition. And in a first for Android Auto, WhatsApp calls will soon be available for drivers using the newest Pixel and Samsung phones.

Google’s video explains more about some of the new driving features in Android Auto.

Google Maps will also predict your arrival battery level, find the perfect charging stops along your route, and even tell you how long it’ll take to juice up. No more range anxiety, just a smoother, more confident electric drive. 

Chrome browser is starting to roll out to select Polestar and Volvo cars in beta, and will be available in more cars later this year. This means you can access your saved bookmarks to keep you busy while parked, whether to do a little shopping or catch up on the news.

And beyond the driver’s seat, Google is also unlocking the potential of digital car keys. Soon, sharing access will be possible with Samsung and Xiaomi phones, alongside existing Pixel and iPhone compatibility. This feature, currently available on BMW vehicles, is set to expand to more brands in the future, making sharing a car as easy as tapping a button.

For cars with Google built-in, the news is equally exciting. Brands like Ford and Lincoln are joining the fold at some stage soon, offering seamless access to Google Assistant, Maps, and other Play Store apps directly on the car’s screen.

Select Renault vehicles will get Waze integration, while automakers using Google Automotive Services will benefit from a new high-definition map. This detailed map, featuring precise lane markers, signs, and road barriers, paves the way for advanced driver assistance technologies and, potentially, hands-free driving on certain roads.

And for those seeking entertainment during pit stops, YouTube joins Tubi and MGM+ in the Google Play lineup, offering a variety of content to watch while parked.

All-in-all, it’s another step to your car truly becoming your digital hub on wheels.

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26 Jan, 2024