Android Auto is once again revamped, this time with a focus on the evolving nature of vehicle touchscreens.
Google says the new split screen view will be standard for all Android Auto users, giving them access to key features like navigation, media player and messaging — all from one screen. Previously, split screen view was only available to owners of certain vehicles. Now it becomes the default user experience for all Android Auto customers.
“We used to have a different screen mode that was available in a very limited number of cars,” said Ron Lopez, product manager at Android Auto. “This is now available no matter what type of screen you have, what size, what form factor, and it’s a really, really exciting update.”
Android Auto also adapts to any type of touchscreen, regardless of size. Automakers are getting creative with the size of their infotainment screens, installing everything from large portrait-style screens to tall vertical screens shaped like surfboards. Google says that Android Auto will now seamlessly adapt to all those variants.
“We’ve seen some really interesting innovations from the industry, where these very large portrait screens come into these extremely wide landscape screens,” Lopez said. “And you know, the cool thing is that Android Auto now supports all of them and can adapt to them, so as a user you have all these features at your fingertips.”
Lopez acknowledged that screens in cars are getting bigger, especially in luxury vehicles like the Mercedes-Benz EQS, with its 56-inch wide Hyperscreen (that’s basically three separate screens embedded in one pane), or the Cadillac Lyriq’s 33-inch LED infotainment. display. He said Google is working with automakers to better adapt Android Auto to this trend.
“That was part of the new motivation behind this redesign, that we could better adapt our product to these vehicles coming out with these huge portrait screens and huge widescreen displays,” said Lopez. “And so our approach works very closely with these OEMs [original equipment manufacturers] to make sure things make sense and they work.”
As screens grow, so does the likelihood that drivers will be more distracted by their screens. A recent study found that drivers who selected music using Apple CarPlay or Android Auto responded more slowly than those who were high from smoking weed. Google has been trying to solve this problem for several years, but it has not yet come up with a definitive solution.
Lopez said safety is “top of mind” for the Android Auto product team, motivating them to work closely with OEMs to ensure the experience is fully integrated into the car’s design to minimize distractions.
In addition to adapting to screens of different sizes, Google is also rolling out several other updates. Users can now reply to text messages with standardized replies that they can send with just one tap.
There are also more nightlife options. Android Auto now supports Tubi TV and Epix Now streaming services. And Android phone owners can cast their own content right on their car’s screen.