Not only is Android Auto is finally getting a update but Google has announced Assistant Driving Mode!
For those not familiar it’s an Android app which brings the look and functions of a smartphone to your cars infotainment system. Just connect your phone to a car that supports Android Auto and your phones interface will take over the infotainment system. Google has also announced an all new product aimed all all the legacy cars out there that may not support Android Auto. Assistant Driving Mode has you mount your phone on the dashboard. Google has a third automotive product Automotive OS which runs your infotainment system.
We’re going to break down what’s new with each of Google’s Automotive products.
Assistant Driving Mode
Cars can stay on the road for decades so if Google wants to go after a big part of the automotive market that doesn’t support Android Auto they’re going to need a solution that will work anywhere. With your phone mounted to your dashboard you pull up the Assistant app and will be presented with a variety of locations it believes you might want to drive to. You’ll also have the option to keep listening to a playlist or podcast.
#HeyGoogle, let’s drive: Coming this summer on @android phones, the Google Assistant’s new driving mode features a thoughtfully designed dashboard with personalized suggestions for navigation, messaging, calling and media. #io19 pic.twitter.com/epJoJdqhX5
— Google (@Google) May 7, 2019
There’s also a suggested media area, which will show prompts for potential music and podcasts drivers might be interested in. Google will be adding more of these “Picks for you” later in the year, starting with things like podcasts and recipes, and they’ll be showing up across all Assistant-powered devices, like the Google Home Hub.
When you’re listening to music while also looking at navigation directions, the Google Assistant Driving Mode will have a condensed music control panel at the bottom of the screen. That will offer the basics, like track skip and play/pause, without taking you away from the map. Incoming calls are announced, with another small interface pane sliding in at the bottom of the screen from which you can answer or reject.
What makes Google Assistant Driving Mode special is that there’s no special app to download. As long as you have the Assistant on your device, you’ll be able to use the new car-centric interface when it launches later in the year.
Android Auto is getting a makeover,this phone-based infotainment platform promises swifter navigation and better use of increasingly large dashboard displays. It also adds a dark theme for better visibility.
That new color palette, Google says, is designed to be easier to see while you’re driving, given the fact that most dashboards are made of darker materials. There’ll be easier to read fonts, for example, with color accents for at-a-glance recognition of important features. Different automakers have different sizes and shapes of infotainment display: Google says Android Auto will now make better use of widescreen panels and show more information at once. That could mean a list of upcoming turn-by-turn directions, details of an ongoing call, or playback controls for your music.
Google says the updated version should get going faster, automatically picking up where it left off on your media. Your default navigation app will load automatically, with a list of suggested locations.
A new navigation bar, meanwhile, will not only show shortcuts for different apps but allow control over their essential features. Turn-by-turn directions will be included, for example, long with media controls and buttons to deal with calls. A new Notification Center will show all the recent calls, messages, and alerts.
We have to agree with Google “The new interface is built to help you get on the road faster, show more useful information at a glance, and simplify common tasks while driving.”
In previous versions of Android Auto, a system bar at the bottom of the screen housed five app icons: Maps, Contacts, Home, Music, and a “car” screen (which didn’t have much use).
Android Automotive OS
Android Automotive OS is much more than Android Auto
Android Automotive OS is far more integrated that Android Auto. It’s the open-source OS running directly on the car’s infotainment system. Because it’s native, Google and Polestar can do a lot more with it. For a start, there are familiar apps: Google Maps for navigation; Google Play Music, Spotify, and others for music; and the Google Assistant to control everything by voice. Since the automakers are allowing deep ties of Android Automotive OS into the underlying vehicle systems, you’ll be able to use the Assistant to adjust the climate control, manage electric range, and do other things which demand systems integration. Similarly, Google is setting the platform up to play nicely with different screens and controls. Not only will automakers be able to customize the look and feel of their Android dashboard, they’ll be able to tailor it to different sizes and shapes of screen; different controls like scroll-wheels, gesture strips, and hand-tracking; and even advanced cabin features like user-awareness. The Polestar 2, for example, doesn’t have a start button: instead, once you’ve unlocked the car with phone-as-key, it powers up as soon as you sit in the driver’s seat.
Polestar took the stage during the Automotive session at Google I/O to discuss the Polestar 2 which was first shown at the Geneva Auto Show. It is the brands first all electric car.
If you’re wondering what’s going with Android Automotive, in a recent interview with TechCrunch, Haris Ramic, Google’s product lead for Android Automotive said that Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance has publicly announced plans for the inclusion of the Android Automotive OS. Fiat Chrysler Automobiles announced last week that Google’s Android Automotive OS will power the next version of the Uconnect infotainment system. Ramic commented on the growing number of partnerships between automakers and Google: “Interest is very high.”
Although a large part of Google’s announcement for Automotive OS was centered on the ability for third-parties to be able to create apps, none have been approved yet, and developer guidelines have yet to be released. The star of Google IO was really Assistant Driving mode and the update to Android Auto.
What do you think? Is Google poised to take over Automotive with it’s three products that address different stages of development and integration into different cars?