Google announced a significant redesign for Android Auto at its I/O developer conference in May last year. Codenamed Coolwalk, the company released the new version in beta in November. At CES 2023, it finally kicked off the public rollout of the “refreshed Android Auto experience.”
The updated Android Auto brings a host of UI changes and feature improvements. We have a new card-based split-screen layout that can simultaneously show navigation, media controls, and more information on your car’s infotainment screen. The interface can automatically adapt to the screen size and type. Whether your car has a widescreen or a portrait display, content is optimized to give your the best experience.
According to Google, this redesign prioritizes three important goals for drivers: navigation, communication, and music. Google Maps is now closer to the driver’s seat to ensure distraction-free driving when navigating through an unfamiliar place. The media card gets the Material You design that adds the album art of the track you’re playing. A new quick launcher lets you quickly access recently-used apps so your focus remains on the road when you’re behind the wheel.
In addition to these changes, Android Auto is also getting a few new features. For starters, Google Assistant can now remind you about missed call reminders, let you quickly share your arrival time with someone, and give you instant access to music or podcasts. You’re also getting on-screen shortcuts for messages, contacts, and more. The music progress bar is now seekable, allowing you to fast forward a track or a podcast episode. Last but not least, Android Auto now lets you make WhatsApp calls. This feature is initially available on the latest Google Pixel and Samsung Galaxy smartphones.
Google is also expanding its digital car key sharing feature to more devices
Along with this Android Auto redesign, Google also made a host of other announcements at CES 2023. Another notable update related to cars and Android is about an expansion of the company’s digital car key sharing feature. You can already share your car’s digital key with trusted friends and family members on a Pixel and iPhone. This ability will soon be available to Samsung users, with Xiaomi to follow later this year. Moreover, Google is also expanding its digital car key support to more car brands. BMW is currently the only supported car maker.
Meanwhile, away from Android Auto, Google is adding HD maps support to Android Automotive. For the uninitiated, the latter is the company’s dedicated car platform that doesn’t require a phone connection. The display inside the supported cars has Google built-in, giving you access to Google Assistant, Google Maps, and more apps directly from the Play Store. A few months back, Google’s Waze team launched a dedicated Android Automotive app. YouTube will also soon be available on Android Automotive, adding to existing streaming apps such as Tubi and MGM+.