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Highly anticipated: Android users have waited years for Google to roll out the long-planned overhaul of its automotive software. The update is finally here and includes significant changes to Android Auto's interface and the apps it incorporates, hopefully allowing easier and less distracting operation of Android apps while driving.
The latest version of Android Auto is now available for Android phone users with compatible vehicles. It includes a new adaptive interface with improvements to navigation, communication, and entertainment features.
Android Auto's new split-screen presentation prioritizes three app windows that change shape to accommodate the various screen sizes between car models. Users have immediate access to navigation, messaging, and audio controls. All of these features come with expansions to their functionality.
Google made the navigation screen easier to read by bringing it closer to the driver's seat. Messaging in Android Auto lets users send replies more quickly, respond to missed calls, call their favorite contacts, share their arrival times, and share access to music and podcasts. Users will also soon be able to make in-car calls through WhatsApp, starting with the latest Pixel and Samsung phone models.
The audio player has received a seekable progress bar so users can fast forward or rewind songs or podcasts. Furthermore, a new quick launcher lets users easily reach recently-used apps.
Digital car key sharing will soon expand to Samsung phones, with support expanding to Xiaomi phones later. The feature is currently available to Pixel phones and iPhones for BMW vehicles but will later include more brands.
The new Android Auto also includes plenty of new features for Google built-in, a system that lets specific models use Google Play apps like Google Assistant or Google Maps without a phone. Starting with the Volvo EX90 and Polestar 3, cars with Google built-in can now access the company's new HD map, which includes road details like lane markers, signs, and road barriers. Google built-in also enables video streaming in apps like Tubi and MGM+ while the car is stopped. Android added it would expand that feature to the YouTube app soon.
In Europe, the new Renault Austral Hybrid and Renault Megane E-Tech electric vehicles are the first to allow navigation through the Waze app instead of Google Maps using Google built-in. Ford and Lincoln models will gain Google built-in later this year, while Honda recently joined the lineup with the 2023 Accord Touring.