Now that the Android Auto team has completed the transition to its new, more fluid interface, it's time for bug fixes and refinements. The latest update appears to fit that role as it introduces a new notification setting and sets the framework for an interface that will finally give users the ability to customize which apps appear in the Android Auto launcher.

What's New

Unofficial Changelog: (the stuff we found)

  • New setting for media notifications

Media notifications become optional

There's a new toggle called "Show media notifications" in the settings page under Notifications. After switching it on and off, and trying several different things, I'm not entirely sure what it does or if it's actually working yet.

My first thought was that this setting would disable notifications for things like picture messages since Android Auto can't actually tell you what's in the picture, and some people just don't want the notification to even appear. However, after sending several photos and stickers to that phone and getting notifications for each is a sign the setting either controls something else or isn't working. I also tried another interpretation of "media notifications" and tested apps that create player notifications but lack Android Auto support, and also web services that create player notifications through Google Chrome on the phone; but neither of those produced notifications on Auto with the setting turned on, so that wasn't it either.

If there's another explanation, especially one that actually changes behavior with this switch, please let us know in the comments.

Teardown

Disclaimer: Teardowns are based on evidence found inside of apks (Android's application package) and are necessarily speculative and usually based on incomplete information. It's possible that the guesses made here are wrong or inaccurate. Even when predictions are correct, there is always a chance that products could change or may be canceled. Much like rumors, nothing is certain until it's officially announced and released.

The features discussed below are probably not live yet, or may only be live for a small percentage of users. Unless stated otherwise, don't expect to see these features if you install the apk. All screenshots and images are real unless otherwise stated, and images are only altered to remove personal information.

Launcher customization: App filtering

As the number of apps on a platform increases, so do our frustrations at the number of apps on the platform. Yes, you read that right. The same thing happened in the early days of Android Wear — too many apps were automatically installed to watches and they became burdensome as the novelty wore off.

Android Auto users have complained for quite a while about apps that either clutter up the old category selectors, like Telegram appearing in the list of music/audio apps, or any mostly unused apps appearing in the new launcher screen. It looks like something may finally be done to give users the control they want.

New resources reveal that an interface is in the works that will make it possible to selectively show or hide apps so only the ones you use will appear in the launcher. According to the current text, this will be described as choosing which apps show up in Android Auto. Notably, one line seems to suggest you will have to unplug and then reconnect your phone after making changes before they take effect.

<string name="settings_customize_app_launcher_title">Customize launcher</string>
<string name="settings_customize_app_launcher_description">Choose which apps show up in Android Auto</string>
<string name="settings_customize_app_launcher_change_toast">Reconnect to update screen</string>

Looking over the primary layouts for the selection screen shows that we'll get to choose apps from a vertical scrolling list with the app icon and name, plus a checkbox on the right side. Unfortunately, it's not clear if this will actually allow us to hide default and non-app entries in the list, like the Phone app or Google's News and Calendar shortcuts.

launcher_settings_apps_row.xml
<LinearLayout android:orientation="horizontal" android:id="@id/content" android:layout_width="fill_parent" android:layout_height="@dimen/launcher_app_settings_row_height" android:paddingStart="@dimen/launcher_app_settings_row_padding" android:paddingEnd="@dimen/launcher_app_settings_row_padding"
xmlns:android="http://schemas.android.com/apk/res/android">

<include android:gravity="start|center" android:id="@id/app_icon" android:layout_width="wrap_content" android:layout_height="wrap_content" android:layout_margin="@dimen/gearhead_baseline_grid_1x" android:contentDescription="@null" layout="@layout/app_icon" />
<TextView android:ellipsize="end" android:layout_gravity="start|center" android:id="@id/app_name" android:layout_width="0.0dip" android:layout_height="wrap_content" android:singleLine="true" android:layout_weight="1.0" android:textAlignment="viewStart" style="@style/TextAppearance.CompanionSettings" />
<CheckBox android:layout_gravity="end|center" android:id="@id/enable_disable_app" android:layout_width="@dimen/launcher_app_settings_switch_width" android:layout_height="wrap_content" />
</LinearLayout>

I'm very excited for this. See that screen below? Half of it needs to go. I don't want to scroll to get down to my podcast player, I don't want to even take a moment to remind myself that the Honda icon is entirely useless, and I'd rather not waste space with Calendar or News. Oh, and that row you can't really see, there's only one app there I would keep. Yup, six apps should just about cover it, and I think most drivers feel the same way.

Download

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