While much attention is directed at mobile from Google I/O, Android Auto has its own deserved moment in the spotlight. Google is set to launch a big Android Auto redesign later this year and finally looks set to make it great to use in the car. Android Auto has been around for a while now but has often frustrated users in the one place you can’t afford frustration.
Android Auto’s fresh new look centers around a split UI, not dissimilar to Apple CarPlay, where you have more key features on the screen at any one time. Even better is that it will apply to all screen sizes. Whether you have a traditional 16:9 panel in your car, one of the new fancy super long displays, or something with more verticality, Android Auto will adapt and deliver the same new experience to all.
With the new design, you’ll have quick access to navigation, media, and communications and Google will be leveraging Assistant yet further in the car. It will be able to provide contextual suggestions to help you interact with minimal distractions. If you receive a message it can suggest quick replies, return missed calls, and even suggest some music to listen to. Even with this great-looking new UI, the less you have to look and poke at it the better.
The update is set to arrive this summer and it’ll certainly make a big difference to the experience. Also getting some attention is Android Automotive, Google’s dedicated in-car operating system, with improvements coming to the parked experience. After all, why should Tesla owners have all the fun?
YouTube support had previously been revealed but Google is expanding the in-car video playback to third-party services, too, initially including Tubi and Epix. It’s been likened to a big-screen tablet experience and that feels like a fair comparison. In-car displays are becoming increasingly tablet-like, after all.
Browsing is also a focus for Google, with Vivaldi not the only in-car browser for Android Automotive going forward it seems. This is all in addition to the big casting feature announced in the keynote, where you’ll be able to use your car’s display as a casting target for media from your smartphone.
To get a look at everything new for cars, both for drivers and developers, be sure to check out the dedicated Google I/O session, what’s new with Android for cars.