After two months in beta, Google’s new dashboard is here
It’s been a long ride for the new Android Auto redesign. After initially leaking out way back in September of 2021 to an official unveil at last year’s Google I/O, we’ve waited a long time to get our hands on this refreshed car-friendly UI. Today, after a two-month beta period, Google is taking to CES 2023 to announce Android Auto’s new dashboard is coming to all drivers starting today.
Although it’s been in open beta since November, joining the program was often easier said than done, with a cap on maximum participants jumping in through the Play Store. That makes today’s move all the more important, as Android Auto’s redesign has been a long time coming. With a new dashboard view that gives drivers more information without having to jump between pages — not to mention a shortcuts dock located near the steering wheel — it’s a safer way to get where you need to go, with maps, music, and communication all at your fingertips.
While the refreshed look is sure to capture the attention of anyone who wasn’t included on the beta, it’s not just a fresh coat of paint. Assistant provides smart suggestions directly to drivers, including options to return missed calls or to start playing suggested songs and podcast episodes.
Google is also rolling out a playback bar for media with this update, something we’ve previously seen separate from the Auto redesign. It’s been a long time coming, but will actually make it possible to quickly rewind any media. WhatsApp is also getting voice call support for Auto, though for now, it’s only supported on “the latest” Pixels and Samsung phones.
At this point, Android Auto’s refresh — codenamed Coolwalk — has been a long time coming, but it’s not the only car-related announcement Google kept for CES. Digital car key sharing came to Pixel and iPhone in December, but today, the company confirmed it plans to expand the program later this year to Samsung and Xiaomi. Although digital car keys are still limited to select BMW vehicles, Google promises it’s expanding across more brands in the future.
Finally, some good news for Android Automotive users. If your vehicle supports Google Automotive Services — as most Automotive vehicles do — HD maps are coming to your car soon. This upgrade adds support for lane markers, signs, and road barriers to your navigation, with the goal of making assisted and autonomous driving safer and more reliable. It’s arriving on the Volvo EX90 and Polestar 3 today, and is coming to additional vehicles soon.
Google isn’t solely focused on cars at CES this year. The company also announced a partnership with Spotify to make your media streaming on Android a whole lot smarter. Presumably, it’s saving the biggest changes to its mobile platform for I/O in a few months, but it’s a few nice surprises to kick off what could be an exciting year.