Android Auto is getting a significant usability upgrade with its first significant visual update since 2019.

    The update will be rolled out in the northern summer, so between June and August of 2022.

    While the graphics still have a familiar look, a split-screen layout is now available across all screen types and sizes.

    Currently, only certain infotainment screens support the split-screen layout. For example, Mazda’s 10.25-inch system does, while 10.25-inch screens in Genesis, Hyundai and Kia models don’t.

    The split-screen layout allows you to have navigation and media information visible on the screen at the same time, saving you from having to endlessly toggle between apps.

    In the example shown by Google, blocks for media and messaging appear to the left of the map on a landscape-oriented infotainment screen, but shift below the map on a portrait-oriented screen.

    The change means Android Auto will conform to any size of touchscreen.

    “We’ve seen some really interesting innovation from the industry, going to these very large portrait displays going into these extremely wide landscape displays,” Android Auto’s lead product manager Rod Lopez told The Verge.

    “And you know, the coolness is Android Auto will now support all of them, and will be able to adapt, giving you all of these features at your fingertips as a user.”

    Google is also introducing contextual suggestions, such as suggested replies to messages that you’ll be able to tap to send, while Google Assistant will even be able to recommend music.

    The company also says you’ll be able to quickly message and call favourite contacts with one tap if you don’t feel like using voice prompts.

    Meanwhile, cars with Google built-in, like the Polestar 2 and, by mid-2022, the entire Volvo line-up, will soon support YouTube and video streaming apps like Tubi and Epix Now.

    That’s handy, for example, if you’re parked at a charging station in your Polestar 2.

    Google is also working on the ability to browse the web directly from the car’s screen, and also allow you to cast content from your phone to the screen.

    William Stopford

    William Stopford is an automotive journalist based in Brisbane, Australia. William is a Business/Journalism graduate from the Queensland University of Technology who loves to travel, briefly lived in the US, and has a particular interest in the American car industry.

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