Things are really happening for Android Auto this week. They're not necessarily big things, but they are things, and that's pretty cool. In addition to yesterday's news that Google Podcasts is finally integrated with Auto, meaning we can stop fiddling with our phones to listen to podcasts and start fiddling with the screen built into the car, there's also an update to the Auto app itself that brings its own helpful change to the source picker.
Improved markers for active sources
Left: v3.8. Right: v3.9.
Switching audio or navigation providers in Android Auto is simple enough, you just open the mode you want and then tap the icon again to open a list of apps. While switching is reasonably simple, it wasn't always easy to tell which app was active. In previous versions, the currently active apps would be shown with a darker bar, which you might not be able to see in some lighting conditions. And if it wasn't the app wasn't in the first page (sorted alphabetically), it might not even be visible without scrolling.
The new version solves some of these issues and makes your selections much more obvious at a glance. To begin with, the selected app is now automatically located at the top of the list, ensuring it can't be overlooked. There is also a new green dot to the far right side of the selected app.
Left: v3.8. Right: v3.9.
Users of the standalone Auto interface on phones will be missing out on the green dot, but that won't matter too much because the active app will still automatically jump to the top of the list. Previously, you would have to rely solely on the barely perceptible difference in background colors to identify the active app.
In practice, this might not have a huge impact for most situations since users are likely to be opening this screen to change to a different app, not figure out which one is currently open. Even so, this is more informative, and that's always welcome.
Now if I may extend my own feature request... I'd like to see a way to pin select apps to the top of this list, and maybe even block some from appearing at all. I mean, now that Google Podcasts is on the list, all it's doing is pushing another app I actually use onto the second page. #plzfix
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