Google Android Auto is getting a huge upgrade soon. If unfamiliar with Google Android Auto, it is a downloadable smartphone app that can be installed and operated for free. In an effort to more seamlessly connect consumer’s cars and phones, as well as improve driver safety, the Google Android Auto app replaces the smartphone as the interface when connected to the car. The infotainment touchscreen display then interacts with one’s smartphone via Android Auto, giving the driver options to various apps by using the touchscreen in the dash as the interface rather than the phone. This provides for drivers the ability to keep their eyes on the road rather than scanning their smartphone. Now with its new upgrades and add-ons, Google is packing a lot more features into the Android Auto app, but some wonder if it’s too much.
Recently, the new Google Android Auto platform was tested on a Range Rover Velar (yes, Google works with brands out of the Fiat Chrysler Automobile Group, and the betrayal is bitter). The upgraded app is designed to help keep a balance between the driver and their smartphone, and the new features are really quite something.
Possibly one of the most interesting new features is the way the app shows up on the vehicle’s infotainment touchscreen. Once the Android Auto app connects the smartphone to the vehicle’s infotainment system, Google was immediately able to show off the Android Auto widescreen mode (seen below) due to the Range Rover Velar having a bit of a wide touchscreen. Contained within this widescreen mode was Android Auto’s improved media app in a split-screen that displayed the time and navigation to its right – much like the new split screen feature of the 2019 Ram 1500 new 12-inch vertical touchscreen display.
Included in the media app display was a nifty new feature that displays recent and new downloads the consumer may have acquired since the last time Android Auto was plugged in. At-a-glance, the driver could see albums, audiobook covers, and more that they could listen to while on the road. This new feature was called “content-forward-browsing” by Google. Moreover, metadata could tell the driver if a particular piece of music or an audiobook had already finished downloading, letting the driver know that playback wouldn’t be interrupted due to poor wireless connectivity via the mobile phone.