Android Auto is Getting a New Design this Summer

Posted on May 6, 2019 by Paul Thurrott in Android, Google, Mobile with 16 Comments

Google announced that it is launching a major design overhaul of Android Auto that will roll out to all compatible automobiles this summer.

“The new interface is built to help you get on the road faster, show more useful information at a glance and simplify common tasks while driving,” Google’s Rod Lopez explains.

Here’s what’s new.

Faster and smarter startup. Android Auto will now start as soon as you start your car, and it will continue playing whatever media you were playing previously and display the navigation app of your choice.

New navigation bar. A new navigation bar lets users see their turn-by-turn directions and control their apps and phone on the same screen. That new navigation bar will also lead to less tapping since most of what you need will already be on the screen.

New notification center. A new notification center will display recent calls, messages, and alerts, so you can choose what to view, listen and respond at a time that’s convenient and safe for you, Google says.

Prettier design. Android Auto will provide a new color palette that’s easy on the eyes. “We’re evolving Android Auto’s design to fit in better with your car’s interior,” Lopez says. “A dark theme, coupled with colorful accents and easier to read fonts, also helps improve visibility.”

More efficient display. If you have a car with a wider screen, Android Auto now maximizes your display to show you more information, like next-turn directions, playback controls, and ongoing calls.

Google says it will detail more of the new Android Auto functionality this week at Google I/O.

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Comments (16)

16 responses to “Android Auto is Getting a New Design this Summer”

  1. nicholas_kathrein

    Very nice. It needed an update. It was bland before.

  2. robincapper

    The single feature "and display the navigation app of your choice." might make me try it again. I much prefer Here navigation and the default to Google Maps was a deal breaker for me with Auto.

  3. robinwilson16

    Will Google Maps ever display the current speed limit? I find it very handy for when I am driving around new areas and all/most other navigation apps seem to provide this. At least it does verbally tell you when you are near a speed camera now which is something. It's not that I speed but certain areas especially around London can have rapidly changing speed restrictions and it's always good to have the piece of mind!

    It seems strange they have never added this.

  4. tomker

    Sounds great. Now if only my Sony XAV-AX3000 headunit would recognize my Google Pixel as a valid Android phone.

  5. provision l-3

    I haven't used Android Auto so maybe there is something I am missing but it seems far more thought out and just looks better than Apple's CarPlay.

    • jrickel96

      In reply to provision l-3:

      I've used both and Android Auto is far inferior to CarPlay. The central problem is the interface is pretty much unrecognizable compared to your phone's interface. It's not as easy to use as CarPlay. CarPlay's design was smart because it functions the same way your phone does.

      The overlays that Android Auto uses just complicate it. CarPlay is just much more simplistic - and this works for driving. Android Auto is much more of a distraction. I've had to pull over to get it to behave the way I've wanted it to in the past because I can't easily use it while driving.

      I've also found that the app crashes. It's not frequent, but Android Auto can just take a dive in the middle of navigation or listening to music. I've never had that issue with CarPlay.

      I hope that Google simplifies Android Auto to make it more user friendly for drivers.

      • John Noonan

        In reply to jrickel96:

        My experience with Android Auto compared to CarPlay is similar to yours. Android Auto is not very stable, and the UI is too complex for a driving accessory. I have used both in three different cars with two different Android phones and three differnet iPhones. Overall, I far prefer CarPlay, although the Google Maps functionality on Android Auto is nice (but Apple Maps on CarPlay is almost its equal any more).

      • provision l-3

        In reply to jrickel96:

        If it is worse than CarPlay that it is pretty bad. I have an iPhone and CarPlay is just god awful.

  6. Tony Barrett

    I'm looking forward to this. AA is great - I use it a lot in the car. I just don't know if this will happen automatically when Google update it, or whether the vehicle dealer will need to do anything too. My guess is, as it's more of a projection system, Google will handle it.

  7. dontbe evil

    Another lost train by MS ... windows 10 could have been a big hit in cars!

  8. ivarh

    Looks a bit more like Apple CarPlay to me.

  9. canamrotax

    As a small car audio retailer, this is a welcome update. Current Android auto in both aftermarket and OEM radios is buggy and not intuitive.

  10. chrisrut

    Very interesting.

    I would go so far as to say the design of the automobile interface must be standardized to the degree possible/practical to minimize user confusion and distraction, especially when switching between various automobiles and communication systems.

    Imagine if the same chaos still existed with the driving-controls themselves? It's bad enough having to wade through the different control styles for cruise control, environmental systems, lights, and the like. The addition of externally adapted smart features compounds the problem exponentially.

    The most important component in any system is the user; our capabilities and limitations define the topography to which the entire automobile's UI must adapt. Such adaptations will occur, first through market pressures - i.e. itches we users want to scratch - and eventually (perhaps in the not distant future) - because of the safety implications - through legislation, as the architecture stabilizes around a known set of functional parameters.

    Just as the automobile emerged as a recognizable thing from a collection of buggy-parts and tinkerer's toys, so too the smart-automobile (and perhaps the pseudo-autonomous automobile) will emerge as a stabilized architecture from the chaos of design experiments that have marked the extension of the intelligent edge into the automobile to date.

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