Product reviews, deals and the latest tech news

Google is currently rolling out its updated split-screen Android Auto

Google’s major update to Android Auto has been long awaited, but it has finally here. The new split-screen interface in Android Auto is a significant deal, and it’s a considerable improvement over the old Android Auto display in terms of adaptability. The original release date for this upgrade was the summer of2022, as announced at Google I/O, however it has since been pushed back to CES 2023 for unknown reasons. There is a lengthy process of safety checks that must be completed by car applications.

With Android Auto, a compatible smartphone app may deliver a specialised user interface to the car’s dashboard using Bluetooth or a cable connection. Android Auto was developed with a fixed focus on a horizontal 16:9 display, in contrast to the flexible nature of conventional Android. Though it has been made slightly more adaptable with each passing year, it has always preferred this horizontal, widescreen orientation. However, not all dashboard displays are widescreen, and in vehicles like the Volvo XC90, which features a large 4:3 iPad-style screen in the centre console, Android Auto was relegated to a small window in the centre of the display. Some producers even labelled it with a post office or pillar box symbol. iOS 13 also brought a comparable degree of customization to Apple’s CarPlay.

The split-screen interface, unlike its predecessor, should work properly on any screen with proportions equal to or greater than 16:9. The three parts are the navigation bar, the main app interface, and a narrower sidebar area that may display one or two more widgets. All of them may be set up in whichever manner best suits the screen’s physical dimensions. The menu bar can be placed either at the bottom of the page or on the right. The primary app interface may be situated either beside the auxiliary content or over it. Both a large vertical strip and a slim horizontal strip are acceptable dimensions for the sidebar. Eventually, you’ll find a setup that works.

The most exciting new feature of Android Auto is undoubtedly the sidebar. The automobile version of Android’s notification bar appears to function in the same way. It has the capability of displaying playback controls and even suggesting more material to listen to. It’s possible to switch to a split-screen view, with the most recent notification (a text message, an offer to share your ETA, or the weather, for example) always displayed at the top.

New intelligent suggestions from Google Assistant include some of these alternatives “Notifications of missed calls, real-time updates on travel time, and on-demand playback of music and audio podcasts are just a few examples. Quickly replying to messages and dialling frequently called numbers is simplified via on-screen shortcuts.”

All media applications on Android Auto will now have a seek bar integrated by default, something Google is doing specifically for music and podcasts. App developers in Android Auto are limited to providing a media stream, branding colours, and selecting from a small set of button options due to car safety restrictions. Instead, Google provides a pre-built media interface that services like Spotify and YouTube Music must utilise. All apps will immediately receive this upgraded pre-built UI.

While the software update is being sent out right now, it is not yet known whether or not cars with larger displays will need to be upgraded to enable this new automobile configuration.