While Google I/O is focusing a lot of attention on mobile devices, Android Auto has its own deserved moment in the spotlight. Google will launch a major Android Auto redesign later this year finally looks like it’s great for in-car use. Android Auto has been around for a while, but has often frustrated users in a place where you can’t afford frustration.
Android Auto’s fresh new look focuses on a split user interface, not unlike Apple CarPlay, where you have more key functions on screen at once. Even better, it applies to all screen sizes. Whether you have a traditional 16:9 panel in your car, one of the new snazzy super-long displays, or something with more verticality, Android Auto adapts and offers the same new experience for everyone.
With the new design, you have quick access to navigation, media and communications, and Google will continue to use the assistant in the car. It will be able to make contextual suggestions to help you interact with minimal distractions. When you get a message, it can suggest quick replies, call back missed calls, and even suggest music to listen to. Even with this great-looking new interface, the less you have to look and poke around, the better.
The update is due out this summer and will surely make a huge difference in the experience. Android Automotive, Google’s dedicated in-car operating system, is also getting some attention, with improvements to the parking experience. After all, why should Tesla owners have all the fun?
YouTube support had previously been announced, but Google is also expanding in-car video playback to third-party services, including initially Tubi and Epix. It’s been compared to a big-screen tablet experience, and that feels like a fair comparison. After all, displays in cars are becoming more and more tablet-like.
Browsing is also a focus for Google, with Vivaldi apparently not the only in-car browser for Android Automotive. This is all in addition to the big casting feature announced in the keynote, where you can use your car’s display as a casting target for media from your smartphone.
For a look at what’s new for cars, both for drivers and developers, be sure to visit the dedicated Google I/O What’s New for Android for Cars session.