Google has quietly announced a new feature for Android Auto users via its official Android Auto User Community support group in Google Groups. The new feature is not anything too big but should prove helpful for those who need to make a phone call while in their vehicle. That's because users will now be able to browse their entire list of contacts via the top-left menu in the app's dialer interface. From there, users can access the feature by tapping the "Contacts" option. A full, browseable list of their contacts will then become visible. Of course, for the safety of everybody on the road, this new feature has been built with the ability to recognize when the vehicle is in motion. When the vehicle is in motion, the app will automatically partially disable the feature.
That means full contacts access won't necessarily be available while users are actually driving. It makes sense since that could actually present a danger to others, depending on how many contacts a user needs to scroll through - and more importantly, how long that means their eyes will not be on the roadway. Rather than disabling completely though, users will be able to accomplish a set number of taps before it halts contact browsing. Calling will revert at that point to the prior method which allows the use of Google Assistant to place calls or a selection to be made based on ordered lists. Those haven't been altered in any way, so users will have access to their favorites and recently called numbers - whether missed, received, or outbound. They'll also still be able to manual punch in the number if they need to.
Presumably, this is a server-side update, although that wasn't specified by the Android Auto Team member responsible for the community post. So, users should not need to update any apps to gain access to the feature. That also means it should roll out fairly quickly. Since the update itself reportedly started on April 19, it should already be available for most, if not all, users. Obviously, this isn't the update some users have been looking forward to, given the number of issues some have had with the platform. Having said that, it should prove useful nonetheless.