Android Auto and Google Maps just got a BIG user interface update, will it come to your car?

Google used ita I/O developer conference to bring Android Auto to the instrument cluster

Android Auto
(Image credit: BMW)

Many new cars now offer Android Auto on their central infotainment displays, as a smartphone-powered alternative to the manufacturer’s own navigation and entertainment system.

Soon though, Android Auto will extend to the digital instrument cluster too, putting apps behind the steering wheel as well as on the dashboard. Google showed off the new user interface at its I/O developer conference in May and used the upcoming BMW iX electric SUV as an example.

android auto in bmw ix

(Image credit: Google)

The demonstration showed how applications from Android Auto can be situated between the digital instruments of the BMW’s driver display, as well as on the main dashboard touchscreen.

This should prove to be a very useful update for many vehicles, putting your mapping or entertainment app of choice right in front of you and next to the speedometer and fuel/battery charge gauge.

As well as mapping and entertainment, the driver display could be used to show an EV charger app, or an application designed to help drivers find a parking space. We’re looking forward to seeing how Android Auto will look on the driver displays of many vehicles, but suspect it will be a slow roll-out, especially as the vehicle Google chose to show off the new feature, the BMW iX, won’t arrive until late-2021.

Apple’s CarPlay can also appear on the car’s driver display, as well as the central touchscreen, but few vehicles offer this for now.

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Alistair Charlton

Alistair is a freelance automotive and technology journalist. He has bylines on esteemed sites such as the BBC, Forbes, TechRadar, and of best of all, T3, where he covers topics ranging from classic cars and men's lifestyle, to smart home technology, phones, electric cars, autonomy, Swiss watches, and much more besides. He is an experienced journalist, writing news, features, interviews and product reviews. If that didn't make him busy enough, he is also the co-host of the AutoChat podcast.