Design-wise, Android Auto is perhaps one of Google's most neglected projects, but that changes now. The company is bringing a much-needed visual overhaul to the in-car platform, updating not only its looks but also its functions. The updates are due this summer.
Google revealed the improved look at its I/O developer conference. The most significant change might be the Android Auto's new overall aesthetic, which now boast a dark theme, new typefaces, and color accents to make it easier for drivers to get more information at a glance.
The New Android Auto
This new iteration of Android Auto also features improved notifications. Drivers can choose to view, listen, and respond to messages more easily than before. But in all, engineers have retooled the whole interface to make the experience of using it more seamless. It should, for example, require fewer taps to get things done or access a particular function.
New Nav Bar
The highlight here is the persistent navigation bar at the bottom of the user interface. Rather than displaying static white buttons over a black background, the new version lets apps take over a section of the navigation bar, which allows drivers more granular control without them requiring to switch to the full app.
Here's how that works: The driver is using Google Maps to go to a destination, but they don't have the full app open on the screen. In this case, the new navigation bar will show the next step in the turn-by-turn directions. Alternatively, if the full Google Maps app is open and they're playing music, the navigation bar will display music controls for apps such as Spotify. In other words, this navigation bar can adapt to whatever function the driver might need at any moment's notice, which in turn reduces the time it takes to look at the screen so they can focus on the road as much as possible.
This bar also features one-tap access to Google Assistant and relocates the home button to the left so it's easier to reach. Plus, notifications now feature added actions, and the app launcher's design has been overhauled for a cleaner, more streamlined look overall.
According to Rod Lopez, Android Auto's product manager, Google rolled out this refresh because it wants to help drivers get on the road faster and let the software show more useful information at a glance and simplify common tasks while driving.
The new Android Auto will be available on all compatible cars "later this summer," as previously mentioned. While it's not much of a major update, it introduces crucial cleanups that will greatly enhance drivers' experiences on the road.