Originally debuting in 2014, Android Auto — the mobile app developed by Google allowing users to mirror core features from their smartphone directly onto a compatible vehicle’s infotainment monitor — finally receives its first major update.
Designed to help minimize driver distraction, one of the software’s best features is providing a Google Maps-powered navigation system that really comes in hand particularly for cars missing built-in GPS. In this latest refresh the interface is completely overhauled for a more streamlined and easy-to use experience.
Most obvious among the changes is a new default dark mode. Not only does the colour scheme make things easier to read, but it also blends in better with most OEM menus than the previously white windows.
App selection is another much improved area. Tapping the circular launch button in the lower left corner of the navigation bar brings up a home screen similar to a setup seen on a phone. Large bright icons are arranged four to a row in order of most recently accessed.
The bar also contains an app-specific dynamic section in the centre, which can for example bring up Spotify playback controls or route directions. To the right are shortcuts to a revised notifications centre and Google Assistant.
Press the notification bell and calls, messages and other important alerts are gathered in one spot instead of showing up in a jumble of separate pop-ups as before. Opening Google Assistant enables voice commands: just ask to have the news or latest weather report read aloud, or to compose a hands-free text.
The update is available on all models equipped with Android Auto. Those possessing widescreen displays like the upcoming 2020 Lexus RX, 2019 and up Jaguar F-TYPE and 2019 Mazda3 will notice a slightly different appearance, taking advantage of the extra real estate by squeezing in additional content on the sides.
The search engine giant says the latest version has already begun rolling out. Keep an eye out in the Google Play store.