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Google Updates Android Auto with a Cleaner User Interface and ‘Driving Mode'

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【Summary】Google is continuing its push into the automotive space with major updates its Android Auto OS. The company is rolling out a new update that makes is easier to use. Among the changes are an updated Google Assistant with “Driving Mode” and a cleaner user interface with less steps required to navigate to a users favorite apps.

Eric Walz    Jul 31, 2019 10:20 AM PT
Google Updates Android Auto with a Cleaner User Interface and ‘Driving Mode'
The new version of Android Auto makes it easier to use in the vehicle.

Since new vehicles are essentially "computers on wheels" it makes sense that people want to use their favorite apps, such as Google Maps, Google Assistant and Spotify, in their vehicles.

Google is continuing its push into the automotive space with major updates its Android Auto OS and is rolling out a new update that makes is easier to use. Among the changes are an updated Google Assistant with "Driving Mode" and a cleaner user interface with less steps required to navigate to a users favorite apps. Assistant's driving mode will launch automatically when a user's phone is connected to a vehicle's bluetooth simply by saying "Hey Google, let's drive." 

Google first previewed the latest version of Android Auto at the company's annual Google I/O developer conference in Mountain View, California back in May, with plans to roll it out by this summer.

The new Driving Mode for Android Auto brings the most used apps like navigation, messaging, calling and media within easy reach so the system is less distracting. It includes personalized suggestions from other apps as well. For example, if you have a dinner reservation on your Google calendar, you'll see directions to the restaurant. 

If a call comes in while a person is driving, the voice-controlled Assistant will tell the driver who's calling and ask if they want to answer. A driver can either pick up or decline the call using their voice.

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Andriod Auto's Driving Mode makes it easier to navigate.

Among the most noticeable changes is a menu bar appearing at the bottom of the screen. It allows a driver to manage multiple apps, more easily. It also lets the user easily pause or skip a song while using turn-by-turn map directions. A user can also jump straight to apps running in the background with just one tap so they can stay focused on the road.

One of the most convenient features is a small Google Assistant icon that appears next to certain apps allowing a user to immediately launch the assistant for the corresponding app with a single tap. For example, a small Google Assistant icon appearing next to the Google calendar app will launch the assistant to tell you about your day.

For music streaming apps, Android Auto automatically picks up where you left off, so if your favorite song was in the middle of playing when you stopped, it will pick back up in the same spot once the app is launched again. 

Additional features include easier to read fonts as well as a new dark theme with color accents that match a vehicle's interior.

The updates to Android Auto are only for vehicles that support it via the vehicle's infotainment system. Google said the Android Auto app for Android devices will be getting a refresh in the future. 

For drivers of vehicles with Android Auto built in, the new design will start to roll out over the next few weeks. 

The list of vehicles with Android Auto embedded into the infotainment system is growing. It's available in more than 500 new car models, including models from Honda, Volvo, General Motors, Toyota and Volkswagen.

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