Android Auto Gets UI Tune-Up, Expanded Google Assistant Integration

Isaac Cain
December 1, 2018

Back in May of this year, we had the opportunity to preview a new version of Android Auto that's built right into the vehicle.

Android Auto is already powerful, but its latest update brings improvements to two its most-used features: media browsing and messaging. The updated messaging experience also introduces a new feature that lets you view previews of messages as they come in, and it's supposed to make it easier for users to keep up with multiple conversations at the same time.

In addition to the message preview we touched on yesterday, Android Auto now supports apps that use MMS and RCS while will include group messaging support and possibly picture messaging, although that seems counter productive to what Android Auto is created to do.

The new media features are now available for Google Play Books, Google Play Music, iHeartRadio, Pocket Casts, and Spotify, with more supported apps coming soon. The interface looks quite similar to the equalizer found in the Google Play Music app. And when you do have to hunt down that one song in your library, Google Assistant is now better equipped to help.

Just ask for music
Just ask for

While these changes sound encouraging on paper, it's going to be some time before we really see Google's new vision for Android Auto take shape.

Google says it's made improvements to voice search too, so now when users ask Assistant for music from a certain generation or genre, it displays search results by artists and albums. So, apps can now add support for group messaging.

Why buy a finished Android Auto head unit when you can hack one together with a Raspberry Pi 3? If you don't have it enabled, try closing the Google Play Store from the Recents menu and reloading, or clearing data in system settings. The updates will roll out in the next few days.

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