Google updates Android Auto with new look, interface

Enlarge Image Android Auto's design gets slicker less cluttered and pleasingly dark compared to the old version.                  Google

Enlarge Image Android Auto's design gets slicker less cluttered and pleasingly dark compared to the old version. Google

Introduced in 2015, Android Auto is now supported in more than 500 vehicle models from 50 different brands. The company also added secure USB support for Android phones and Chromebooks, which means that developers can build, debug and push app builds to a phone using Google's "developer-recommended" Chrome OS devices.

On top of that, the Android Auto notification center has been upgraded to better highlight the latest messages and alerts, so you can better decide what's important right now, and what can be safely ignored until your drive is over. Google I/O attendants will be able to try it out earlier, though. Google also improved the app background launching warnings it previously implemented; now they are just blocked.

The user interface has a new, sleek Dark Theme.

You can see Live Caption in action by watching the video below. This grid of apps is now the new home screen, and the familiar list of notifications and suggestions (Android Auto's old home screen) now lives under the bell button.

For tired Android phone users who've gotten used to grand delays between feature announcement and said feature actually becoming reality on their own devices, this change represents at least a small win. The new feature was announced at the Google I/O conference Tuesday in Mountain View, California. You can also now tell Android to only allow an app to access your location while it is in use (like on iOS).

Like all of Google's project codenames for Android, this one sounds lofty and it's not at all clear how smoothly it will go.

With Focus Mode, you can pick the apps that you think might distract you and silence them - for example, pausing email and the News while leaving maps and text message apps active.

Furthermore, Google is also giving the Google Assistant the ability to respond to multiple requests without saying "OK, Google" or "Hey, Google" every time, which essentially supercharges how fast you can converse with the Google Assistant.

With the music open, you'll get turn-by-turn information in the bottom bar.

Android Q is also ready for the next wireless innovations, such as 5G and folding displays.

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