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Recap: Back in May, we reported on the announcement of Android Auto's biggest update in a while. Unveiled at Google's annual I/O conference, the update was set to include a darker interface for Auto, vastly improved background app functionality, better navigation features, and even a "pick up where you left off" feature; which could automatically continue playing your music if you, say, got out of your car to get groceries and then returned.
Today, those features are finally rolling out to the public. If your car has Android Auto compatibility, you should start seeing the new functionalities and interface elements sometime today. You'll be able to do things like use Maps to navigate on the top portion of the screen, while using the bottom fifth for music controls.
Similarly, you can do the opposite by using the top of the screen to browse Spotify (or other apps) and the bottom fifth to see when and where your next Maps turn will be. As you can imagine, these new features will be fantastic for multitasking, and their uses extend beyond mere Maps and music interplay.
These multitasking capabilities have been made possible due to an overhaul of Android Auto's bottom "dock." Now, the bottom bar has three always-visible controls to the left and right – a home button (which will take you to a scroll-able screen that contains all your apps) and notification/microphone buttons, respectively.
Between the two sides is where the previously-mentioned contextual multitasking controls will fit. It's a smart way to streamline the interface, but it does come at the cost of the old, easily-accessible app shortcuts that you'd find in that area before this update.
As we noted before, Android Auto's latest version should automatically roll out to users today, but if you don't get it right away, just be patient. Google has been known to stagger its updates (especially major ones) over the course of several days from time to time.