A fresh update to the Android Auto app began rolling out yesterday, but it doesn't appear to include any notable changes to the interface on either the phone or in the car. But that doesn't mean this update is just for bug fixes, there isn't something interesting floating around inside the apk that can only be seen through the lens of a teardown. We can look forward to at least one important new feature: Auto will soon get to use our calendar appointments to suggest directions when we're on the way to a destination. As always, grab the apk from the link at the bottom if you don't have it on your phone already.
If you are in the market for an inexpensive phone mount, right now over at Amazon you can pick one up for $4 with promo code HM6MF7KT. It's regularly $8, which makes that a 50% savings. Make a bold note, though, that it will only work if you've got a phone on the smaller side, between 4 and 5.2" in screen size (or 55mm-85mm in width).
Android Auto doesn't boast new features all that often, which is part of the reason many people became excited when a roadmap including some of the most requested improvements was announced at last year's Google I/O event. One particular item, Waze integration, had fans of the navigation app ready to sing. However, the months wore on and news about the pairing dried up. That is until today. Members of the Waze Beta Community have been receiving emails asking if they would like to participate in testing out the new capabilities.
There's a new version of Android Auto rolling out and this one is definitely worth the download. Version 2.2 brings one of the most requested features to the Auto interface since it was launched: Notifications can now be swiped away from the overview screen. There's also a new option to disable messaging notifications, which might help if those have been getting in your way. As usual, grab the latest update from the link at the bottom if it's not already rolling out to your phone.
If you enjoy listening to music or podcasts while driving, you may be using Android Auto and Google Maps in conjunction with Google Play Music, Pocket Casts, or Spotify. But those of you who prefer Waze for directions and traffic updates may often find themselves juggling it alongside their audio app throughout the drive. That's neither easy nor safe, but it's about to get better.
Spotify and Waze are partnering up to make each app's main features easily accessible in the other. You can start a Waze navigation and see turn-by-turn directions within Spotify, and you can access your Spotify playlists and control playback within Waze.
VLC, the desktop favorite of local video enthusiasts for more than a decade, doesn’t have quite the same kind of universal acclaim on Android. But the developers are still hard at work making improvements. According to a blog post from Geoffrey Metais, the 2.1.0 update to the beta release adds a ton of new features, notably including compatibility with Android Auto (for audio, not video).
Android Auto v2.0 began rolling out earlier this week with a pretty significant redesign that made the driving mode part of the app's primary UI. There were quite a few changes to support the on-phone Auto simulator, including a fair number of new options like the ability to auto-launch with certain Bluetooth connections (and prevent that if it's still in a pocket).
While most of the new features are easy to discover when poking around in either the driving mode interface or in the couple of config screens, there's a new feature in the audio player that deserves to be called out on its own.
Google has been on a roll this week with app updates and there have been some pretty cool new features, not the least of which makes comic books more awesome. One of the latest arrivals to the list is a beta update to the titular app. Known originally as "Search," the Google app now encompasses a custom launcher, the Now stream, Now on Tap, voice commands, and more. The recently announced Google assistant is on course to join the party, promising to bring many of these technologies together to deliver something not unlike the computer from Star Trek: The Next Generation.
Android Auto is quite possibly shaping up to be the dark horse in Google's larger Android family. At I/O 2016, Google announced more new Android Auto features than it ever has before, including the much-demanded wireless mode which will finally see Android Auto freed from the tether of a USB cable (if that's something you're into).
The real story from an adoption perspective, though, wasn't really Wi-Fi mode, the standalone phone app, or Waze integration: it was a silly little tire pressure notification in a Honda Civic.
You see, to date, Android Auto's interface has had five tabs - telephony, navigation, media, home, and the mysterious "OEM" tab, which has an icon that looks like a vehicle gauge.
There were plenty of features announced at Google I/O yesterday regarding Android and some of those new things are meant for Android Auto - Google's car dashboard system. The most exciting of them is the fact that you will no longer need an Auto-enabled vehicle to be able to benefit from the simplified car-friendly interface while you're driving. You can also learn more about the features in our video, below.
In the next few months, Android Auto will get several interesting additions. First is Waze compatibility with the app running on your dashboard and keeping you in the loop of hazards ahead and potential delays and problems. Second is OK Google hotwording which will activate voice commands when you say "OK Google" instead of requiring you to press a button to start listening.