Android Auto is getting a big free upgrade

The next generation of Android Auto has a brand new look and some killer new features

Android Automotive video in car
(Image credit: Google)

One of the most interesting announcements at Google I/O 2022 was a massive update to Android Auto, and to manufacturers' in-car systems based on Android Automotive. If you prefer video to text, I've embedded the YouTube presentation below. 

The most obvious update is that Google has refreshed the Android Auto user interface. It's easer to navigate. to control your media and to communicate with other people now, and the split screen view is now standard to take advantage of the bigger entertainment/nav panels in many newer cars. That means you'll be able to respond to messages or change your music without having to exit the navigation screen. 

The interface is now adaptive, so it can adjust its dimensions to pretty much any size of display – something that's increasingly important now that so many car firms are experimenting with dramatically different designs for their infotainment and nav systems. That should result in some interesting third party options too. I hope so: I recently gave up on my plan to buy an Android Auto/CarPlay head unit because every single option would have looked really odd in my car, so I've stuck with the OEM unit and just added a Bluetooth receiver to the Aux input. I'd much rather have a smart head unit, though, so I'm crossing my fingers for some more interesting options this year.

Android Auto isn't just getting a prettier face. For people whose in-car units use Android Automotive, which you'll find in recent cars from the likes of Ford and Volvo, Google is adding to the already-announced YouTube streaming by adding support for Tubi TV and Epix Now apps, with more apps coming soon. Google also says it'll be adding the ability to cast from your phone to your in-car display, although it hasn't said when we can expect that feature to be implemented.

Next: Android Auto is best when it comes to in-car entertainment, here's why I think others should give up

Writer, musician and broadcaster Carrie Marshall has been covering technology since 1998 and is particularly interested in how tech can help us live our best lives. Her CV is a who’s who of magazines, newspapers, websites and radio programmes ranging from T3, Techradar and MacFormat to the BBC, Sunday Post and People’s Friend. Carrie has written thirteen books, ghost-wrote two more and co-wrote another seven books and a Radio 2 documentary series. When she’s not scribbling, she’s the singer in Glaswegian rock band HAVR (havrmusic.com (opens in new tab)).