Google has started to roll out an enhanced version of the Android Auto infotainment system, promising an easier to use experience that improves driver safety.
As previewed at Google I/O in May, the in-car version of Android Auto will now give drivers more opportunities to use the voice-powered Google Assistant and access to favourite apps in fewer touches.
There’s a new launcher that features the most commonly used apps, which is accessed through a new home button in the bottom left corner. Some of those app icons now depict compatibility with the Google Assistant. Once those apps are tapped the Google Assistant will offer contextual information.
For instance, you can get a summary of the day’s news, and information on how your daily appointments are shaping up. Drivers will also be able to set reminders and hear weather reports.
There’s also a new notifications button at the bottom of the display, which will show all of the missed calls and messages. Google is also making improvements to the navigation experience. When you plug in your phone your navigation app of choice will launch on command.
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In a blog post, Google says: “Never get lost again with your favorite navigation app easily accessible on your display right when you connect Android Auto. Tap on a suggested location or use the Assistant to start navigating. And if you already have a route queued up on your phone, Android Auto will automatically populate the directions and begin routing you to your destination on your display.”
Also, if drivers are using a media app, they’ll be able to see their next direction in the taskbar rather than having to return to Google Maps, for example. The smarts also stretch to syncing of media content like songs and and podcasts to ensure you pick up where you left off on the other device.
The new app, which exists within Android, has also been designed to play nicer with widescreen infotainment displays. Google says the rollout will continue over the next few weeks.