After a huge delay, Google’s big refresh on Android Auto is finally here. This new version of Android Auto puts a big emphasis on a new split-screen interface that is much more flexible than the old, rigid Android Auto screen. This update was shown for the first time at Google I/O and it was promised in the summer of 2022, but that was somehow delayed to CES 2023. There are many safety regulations that car apps have to pass.
Android Auto is an application that lives on your phone and sends a custom interface (wireless or wired) to the dashboard of a compatible car. Unlike regular Android, which can scale to any size or shape, Android Auto was originally designed rigidly around a horizontal 16:9 display. Updated over the years a little more flexible but he has always wanted to live in this horizontal, widescreen configuration. Not all car screens are widescreen though, and on cars like the Volvo XC90, which had a large 4:3 iPad-style display on the center console, Android Auto was located in a small window in the middle of the screen. Some manufacturers gave him a letter or column box. Apple’s CarPlay got a similar response. flexibility update on iOS 13.
Unlike the old version, the split screen interface should be able to adapt to any rectangular screen. There are three components: a navigation bar, the main application interface, and a smaller sidebar section that can show one or two additional widgets. All of these can be configured to make sense for the shape of the screen. The navigation bar can be on the right or at the bottom. The main app interface can be stacked next to the sidebar section or at the top. The sidebar can be a long vertical strip or a thin horizontal strip. Some configurations will work!
The sidebar is the most interesting new addition to Android Auto. It seems to work just like Android’s notification bar, but it’s too big for cars. It can show controls for playing media or media recommendations. It can change to split screen mode where the top item will show the latest notification, which could be an incoming text message, the option to share your arrival time, or the weather.
Some of these options are new Google Assistant smart suggestions like “missed call reminders, quick arrival time sharing, and instant access to music or podcasts.” On-screen shortcuts speed up message replies and searching for favorite contacts.
Google is also adding a searchable action bar for Android Auto music and podcast apps that will automatically apply to every Android Auto media app. Vehicle safety regulations in Android Auto mean that app developers can’t do things like design a UI; It has a pre-built media interface that Google, Spotify, YouTube Music and all other media apps should use; Developers simply choose from media streaming, brand colors and a few button options. This prebuilt interface is updating so every app will get it automatically.
While the app update is currently rolling out, it’s unclear whether existing cars with larger screens will need to be updated to support this new automotive configuration.
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