We've heard it all along, Android Auto is designed around keeping your hands on the wheel and your eyes on the road. While that doesn't always work out in practice, many of the changes to the Auto interface are at least intended to streamline your interactions with the screen. It looks like Google may have identified people were spending too much time browsing for music and podcasts, because a new shortcut now provides automatic suggestions that can get you listening without a lot of tapping.
A few days ago, Reddit user sccabrian posted a picture of a new button appearing in Android Auto, along with the resulting screen that appears when it is tapped. The button appears in the navigation bar between the player controls and the notifications button.
Upon tapping the button, a pop-up appears with automatically generated suggestions for music, podcasts, and news; all presented in a horizontally scrolling list with large blocks for each suggestion, so there's little chance of accidentally tapping the wrong thing. A single tap on any of these begins playback and the floating window disappears.
Content is only listed from apps you have installed, but Google Assistant may also tack things onto the list, like news and podcasts. The suggestions are based on listening habits, although it's unclear what service(s) are responsible for making the suggestions — do Google just aggregate suggestions from your installed apps, or is it 100% Google intuition?
As noted by some of the people that have already received the new button, there aren't any settings to remove it, augment its behavior, or filter the content that can appear in suggestions. But as we've seen several times in the past, features are often added to Android Auto without many settings, and the options to adjust them follow a few months later.
This appears to be a pretty limited rollout while Google's team watches for bugs or usability issues, but it's likely to reach most people within a matter weeks if things go well. At this time, there doesn't appear to be a way to force the feature on, nor does it require the most recent app update, it's simply activated by a server-side switch.