Google Android Auto gets major update – new look, features, split-screen mode; better screen support

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Three years after its last major overhaul, Google’s Android Auto is set to receive another significant redesign in the summer (from June) in the United States. First introduced in 2014, Android Auto has gone through multiple iterations and the company says it is now found in over 150 million cars globally across nearly every car brand.

Revealed at Google I/O 2022, the latest version of Android Auto features a new user interface that adapts to various car screen sizes, which is something its predecessor couldn’t do. This is an important enhancement as it maximises screen real estate and will see the UI default to a split-screen mode that scales automatically to a widescreen- or portrait-format display.

A selection of panels relating to your most-used features will all shown in one place – a la Apple CarPlay – including media playback, navigation and messaging. “We’ve found there are three main functionalities that drivers prioritise in their cars: navigation, media and communication,” Google said in its release.

There will also be a permanent panel for access to the app launcher, notifications and Google Assistant. On that mention, the company’s voice assistant will now offer contextual suggestions to help you be more productive in the car.

Examples include suggested replies, to messages, to sharing arrival times with a friend, or even playing recommended music. Additionally, you can now quickly message and call favorite contacts with just one tap, and even reply to messages by selecting a suggested response on the screen.

Besides Android Auto, Google also highlighted improvements made to Android Automotive OS (AAOS), it’s infotainment platform that is currently built into Volvo models like the C40, XC40 and Polestar, among others – several carmakers have also pledged to adopt AAOS.

New for AAOS is support for third-party video streaming apps like Tubi and Epix Now, allowing users to have more options besides YouTube to keep them entertained when their vehicle is parked. Users will also be able to use a web browser and cast their own content from their phone when these features become available later this year.

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