Android Auto just got some useful upgrades, but one big update is missing

Google’s latest user interface tweaks subtly improve the infotainment system

Android Auto
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

Google has rolled out a couple of small upgrades to its Android Auto car infotainment system. And, while these don’t include the highly anticipated split-screen view, they improve the look of the software.

Specifically, the changes appear in Android Auto’s music interface. Unlike on Android phones, where every music streaming app has its own design, on Android Auto they all look the same. So whether your music comes from Spotify, Tidal or Apple, the interface for playing tracks has the same design.

What Google has done is change the background so it features a blurred image of the currently-playing album art, which now stretches across the whole screen. Before, it only covered the left half of the screen, leaving the right side black and making it look like the interface was broken.

Google has also changed the design of the track progress icon. Before, as a track played a grey circle around the pause button would gradually turn green. This has been replaced with a white progress bar that stretches horizontally across the screen. Touching this bar doesn’t skip music to that point, but it’s a nicer look and one that is easier to read at a glance while driving.

First published on Reddit, these updates arrived this week with the recent v7.8.6225 and beta v7.9.1228 Android Auto updates, respectively.

Despite being nice visual improvements, they are only minor tweaks compared to the split-screen change we’re all waiting for. Announced at Google’s I/O event back in May, split screen view puts the navigation, media and contextual overall all on-screen at the same time, with the layout changing depending on the size and aspect ratio of the vehicle’s dashboard display.

Google said the overhaul would arrive “just in time for the summer,” but as of late-July it is yet to arrive. Hopefully it’s just around the corner, and Android Auto users will get to enjoy a whole new interface layout soon.

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.