Good news if you own a car using Google's operating system.
Google has made several updates to Android Auto and upgrades for cars equipped with Google built-in.
Android Auto, which connects to a car's infotainment system via a wire (or wirelessly in modern cars), has been updated so users can access the three most essential functions more efficiently. According to Google, it has prioritized navigation, communicating with friends and family, and playing music or podcasts.
The maps icon and the navigation display have been moved closer to the driver's seat for increased visibility. Thanks to Material You (Google's new unified design language), the split-screen layout will display your favorite album art next to the navigation. Split screen capability is no longer limited to cars with the correct format, as the system can adapt to various screen sizes and layouts. A quick launcher function has also been added to access the most recently used apps quickly.
Google's new layout also makes it easier to complete specific communication tasks. The built-in Google Assistant can make intelligent suggestions like missed call reminders, instant access to media where you left off, and quick sharing of your arrival time with friends and family. On-screen shortcuts for standard message replies and your favorite contacts also make calling and texting safer than before.
The most requested feature, a seekable progress bar for media, is also now standard. According to Google, you will soon be able to make calls using WhatsApp using the latest Pixel and Samsung phones. It will likely be rolled out to other phones in due course.
Google built-in is a standard operating system for cars. Brands like Hummer, Volvo, Ford, and Honda don't need to spend millions developing their own software to make interior interfaces more phone-like. Honda made a big deal about Google built-in when it unveiled the all-new Accord because it comes with a Google Voice Assistant plus Google Maps and access to the Google Play Store.
The latest upgrade includes Waze, but only for select Renault models. It will eventually be rolled out to more cars. Google's new HD Map is available on select vehicles, starting with the Volvo EX90 and Polestar 3. According to Google, "the HD map delivers precise road details like lane markers, signs and road barriers to support automakers' assisted and autonomous driving technology for safer, more hands-free driving on select roadways."
Owners of EVs with Google built-in will be happy to learn that new entertainment features will be added. Tubi and MGM+ are already available, and YouTube will join them soon. It's a great way to waste time while the car is charging.