Android Auto Makeover lets you watch YouTube in your car

New Android Auto portrait mode

The Android Auto update will make it easier to take care of your maps and messages while driving.
picture: The Google

Android Auto in the dashboard is getting a much-needed update. During a session at its developer conference, Google inserted ReviewThe interface ised coming to the Android car software. It includes a new split screen mode that’s more expandable across different display types, as well as other small parts that will hopefully reduce the number of clicks needed to find what you need while you’re driving.

If you’ve been shopping for a car lately, you’ve probably noticed that it’s hard to buy a model without a huge head-up display between the driver and passenger seats. The large screens in the car seem to become the default with each new model. In keeping with trends, Google has reworked Android Auto so that it’s easy to scale on any car display regardless of manufacturer and screen orientation.

Split screen mode will become the standard way to run Android Auto. It provides instant access to all necessary features on the same screen, so you don’t have to tap and switch between apps while watching the road. The new Android Auto will display Google Maps and media controls in a side-by-side window array, the way you can split windows down the middle on a computer interface. Split screen mode will adapt to different screen sizes considering display orientation, such as landscape mode or portrait mode.

A look at how split screen mode looks on different sized screens.
GIF: The Google

Google has also injected deeper integration with Assistant into Android Auto. You will notice that more contextual alerts and suggestions appear. The assistant will also make it easier to access frequent contacts and provide smart responses if you need to respond quickly and can’t touch your phone.

If your car has Google built-in, you’re getting an additional feature that could prove controversial depending on how you feel about screens in the car. Earlier this year, Google announced it was allowing folks to watch YouTube in the built-in display once the vehicle is parked. It’s adding two new apps to the lineup, Tubi and Epix Now. Both offer a ton of free video content to help you pass the time while waiting in the car.

A photo of Android Auto showing content you can watch

Who doesn’t want to use their car’s screen to watch free movies and TV shows?
Image: Google

Coming soon to a car near you

The new interface will work on a variety of screen sizes. But the way windows are oriented will depend entirely on the car manufacturer and how it lays things out. For instance, I have a Subaru with an 11-inch display. However, only half the screen is made available to Android Auto, as the other half caters to Subaru’s proprietary controls, like HVAC inside the car. Google said it’s up to the OEM to define how much space Android Auto can take up.

Android Auto’s refresh isn’t a total surprise. Rumblings over the new UI started last fall, and we had a real tease The new look at the beginning of the year. The new interface looks like it would be less distracting than the current one, as apps can often take up the entire screen, requiring you to reach out and hit hard on the back button to return to the navigation.

The new Android Auto interface will start appearing in cars this summer. I look forward to testing out the new look. Hope that’s good enough that I can finally get past that Google has discontinued my favorite Android Auto phone app.

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