Android Auto Gets First Major Upgrade in Five Years

Posted on August 1, 2019 by Paul Thurrott in Android with 14 Comments

Google this week announced that it is rolling out a major update to Android Auto that deemphasizes the phone version of the app.

“If your car has Android Auto support, you’ll start to see the new design over the next few weeks,” Google’s Rod Lopez explains. “These updates will not be reflected in Android Auto for your phone screen. We will be evolving the phone screen experience from Android Auto to the Assistant’s new driving mode in the future.”

So that’s interesting, if mysterious. But the updates to Android Auto—the version you see on-screen in your car—are perhaps just as interesting. They include:

A new look and feel. Previewed back in May, Android Auto sports a new design that offers many, many improvements over its predecessor. A new navigation bar lets you easily access your favorite apps. There’s a new dark theme. And the UI adapts to the size and dimensions of your car’s display and now fills the entire screen, no matter how wide the display.

Quicker access to navigation. Now, you can configure your favorite navigation app to appear on your display when you connect Android Auto. If you already have a route loaded on your phone, it will appear in Android Auto automatically.

Better Assistant integration. Apps that provide Google Assistant support will display a small Assistant badge on their on-screen icons. You can tap those icons to hear whatever information they provide. (If you tap the Google Calendar app, for example, Assistant will tell you about your schedule.)

Pick up where you left off. Now, Android Auto will begin playing whatever audio—music, audiobook, podcast, whatever—you were listening to previously, and it will playback from where you left off. You can find a list of compatible apps on the Google Play Store.

Missed call and unread message notifications. A new notification button in the far right of the navigation bar will let you access your recent calls, messages, and alerts. You can also long-press this button, which looks like a microphone, or say “Hey Google” to have the Google Assistant help make calls, send messages and read your notifications.

Google says the new design will roll out in the next few weeks.

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Comments (14)

14 responses to “Android Auto Gets First Major Upgrade in Five Years”

  1. RM2016

    This is good news.

  2. Tony Barrett

    Looking forward to this. I use AA quite a lot in my car, and a refresh is well overdue. Let's hope this update comes to the UK relatively quickly and isn't 'US only' for the next year.....

  3. nicholas_kathrein

    Much needed update. I wonder if this will get the new Google Assistant 2.0 when Android Q drops later this year. That would greatly improve the speed of voice interactions.

  4. dcdevito

    Ironically Apple added a Dashboard view to CarPlay, and Google removes theirs from Android Auto. It was AA’s best feature in my opinion.

  5. mefree

    I have a 2016 Ford Mustang with the large touch screen and I had to completely remove Android Auto from my phone as it would hijack my cars interface, crash, re-launch, freeze, etc. Basically Android Auto was beyond worthless, it would kill the interface of my car. Horrific experience. I've tried every 6 months thinking "maybe they've fixed this by now" but sadly no. I would love to have Google maps GPS running on my car interface instead of my phone, etc, but alas. :-( MAYBE this will finally fix things?

  6. fishnet37222

    I hope the option to resume playback of music is configurable.

  7. X911ty12

    Phone version replaced by useless assistant crapola, great. "We kill all features you love and use for new unwated features!" ~Google

    I don't want an assistant no matter how many things you add it to.

  8. pargon

    So what is the version number we're looking for? I don't know how this stuff is always left out of these articles. Seems to be the most important thing for someone that wants to update to it and test it out. Usually there's an update available from whatever app store and no way to know what I just installed. Some apps get updated on a weekly basis it seems.

  9. wheeltalk

    I'll say what everyone else is thinking, but is afraid to say. Rest in Peace, Android Auto.

    This new UI is harder to use, harder to passively read information from when peeking over from the driver's seat, and is a desperate ripoff of CarPlay - which, funny enough, CarPlay is one of the very few poorly designed Apple products around these days!

    I guess we go backwards in time to when smartphone-car integrations don't actually do anything useful on screen, and need to be operated totally by voice...

  10. Rob_Wade

    I rely heavily on Cortana on my Windows phone, particularly in my car. The ability to press a button on my steering wheel and have Cortana text people, or the ability to hear an incoming text announced and be able to respond to it completely hands free are critical for me. The ability to simply tell Cortana to play a playlist or an artist is something I've also come to rely on. The bottom line is, it is impossible to get the breadth of capability on Android that I've come to depend on with my Windows phone.

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