We’re always on the go, but staying up to the minute with business, entertainment, or friends can sometimes be a hassle. At your desktop or on your smartphone, information and interaction is available at a moment’s notice, but in a car can be difficult, if not dangerous. Android Auto aims to keep you focused on the road, get you to your destination, and keep you connected to your life while you’re on the road.

Of course, this isn’t to say that Android Auto is some magic bullet. Indeed, updates and rollouts have been slow in coming for at least a couple of good reasons. First, there are compatibility issues, covering dozens of smartphones, dozens of automakers, and hundreds of models – over 500 and counting – as well as differing infrastructure wherever it’s to be deployed around the world. Google needs to test them all, making sure things look right and act right. Then, perhaps more importantly, developers need to ensure every line of code meets various governing bodies’ standards for safety and security.

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Anyone who’s been wishing for a smarter Android Auto experience might get some satisfaction from this summer’s release. Android Auto Product Manager Rod Lopez says this next big update focuses on the interface. Simplification might be the best way to think about it: it’s not dumber, but smarter getting you the information you want, when you want it. With so many other distractions on the road as it is, simplifying tasks in Android Auto keeps its’ own distraction to a minimum.

  1. Faster Startup will display suggested destinations and start playing your favorite driving music as soon as you start the car. You can tap one of the suggestions for instant navigation in your favorite driving app or say “Hey Google” and tell it where you want to go.
  2. Navigation Bar is way smarter, getting rid of buttons – What did the car button do, anyway? – and displaying interactive controls for whatever is off-screen. For example, if you’re viewing navigation and listening to Pandora, the bar will show a few Pandora controls. If you’re viewing Pandora and navigating at the same time, the bar will show next turn information. If a call or text comes in while navigating, you don’t have to switch screens, because the bar will show you options automatically.
  3. Notification Center keeps all your recent calls, messages, notifications, and alerts in one place. When it’s safe to do so, you can easily see which demand your attention to listen, view, or respond.
  4. Easier Viewing is expected with a few changes to the interface. The new design fits in better with today’s car interiors. A dark theme, colorful accents, and new font choices will make the app easier on the eyes and easier to read and navigate. The adaptable interface will match itself to vehicles with wider displays to prevent clipping, stretching, or wasted space.

With so many new vehicles coming with Android Auto and this next big update, we can’t wait to hit the road with our favorite navigation and music apps for commuting days and weekend road trips. Before heading out, though, be sure your non-Android auto is in good shape for the trip. Make sure the tires are safe – check out our tires on sale – and the maintenance is up to date for whatever roads you travel.

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