In terms of technology, it amazes me how some things (like iOS and Android) get updates very regularly. Yearly, for sure, with some minor tweaks in between. But when it comes to things like Android Auto, we don’t see updates as regularly. For example, Google’s in-car interface hasn’t been updated since 2014. Well, the features available have grown over the years, but the interface itself has remained the same. That’s a significant amount of time, isn’t it? I mean, if Android or iOS didn’t get updated for five years, there would be a literal revolt. You’re probably wondering what is taking Google so long to update Android Auto?
Even if we never find out the answer to that, we can rest easy knowing that Google has plans to update the platform soon. In fact, Google has announced that they plan to release a new, redesigned version of Android Auto that would be available in cars this summer. To that point, Google set up a 2020 Hyundai Kona, onsite during I/O, which comes equipped with the new (but not finalized) software. Many have said that the original Android Auto design was maddening, but the software update has addressed a lot of these pain points. The original design felt like it wasn’t designed for a car.
But that’s the beauty of technology – isn’t it? A concept doesn’t have to be fully developed in order for it to be good. It simply has to be a concept. And we, as society have no problems allowing technology to marinate over time, before being “finalized”. I guess you could say that’s really how technology works. I mean, many of us are using an operating system on our smartphone, but that doesn’t mean it’s the final version. We use it’s most up-to-date version and await the next great thing. So it’s not to say that Android Auto was bad to start with. It was just lacking. And after five years, I certainly hope that Google came through in a big way.
From a design standpoint, Android Auto will have a dark background color, combined with some accent colors that really pop. The interface will maximize the size of the wider infotainment screens and will allow more information to be visible. A new navigation bar will also allow you to multitask a bit. More specifically, a user can see turn-by-turn directions and mobile apps at the same time on the screen. When it comes to usability and convenience, Google has indicated that as soon as a vehicle is turned on, the system will “continue playing your media and show your navigation app of choice”. Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it can be problematic. Why? Well, I don’t always want my passengers hearing the podcasts that I’m listening to!
But I digress. These kinds of infotainment systems have become increasingly popular and more common since Android Auto debuted in 2014. Google has indicated that Android Auto is available in 500 vehicle models from 50 different brands worldwide – which is significant. All that said, we are going to have to wait until the summer, before the update is officially ready to go.