Samsung revealed its new Galaxy S21 phones last week, but that wasn't all the company talked about. It was also announced that Samsung's SmartThings device controls would soon be accessible through Android Auto, and now the functionality is already going live.
Just a couple months ago, Android Auto added six preset images hidden away in the code that could be used as future backgrounds. We had been hoping that this meant that full custom wallpaper support would be coming soon, but instead, Google has removed most of the previous images in favor of 12 new, more car-oriented backgrounds that suit Android Auto a lot better. They're still not selectable, though.
Google may offer quite some options for multilingual users, but there are still many hurdles when using the Assistant, Gboard, and other Google apps in two or more languages. Over the last year and a half or so, the problems have also moved over to Android Auto. Bilingual users have been reporting that the Assistant reads notifications in the wrong language, resulting in word soup and unintelligible sounds. After months of working on resolving the problem, Google has finally found a, uhm, let's call it solution: Just remove your secondary language from the Assistant.
More than a year ago, Google announced that the Assistant Driving Mode was supposed to replace the Android Auto interface on phones. It looks like the company ran into significant problems with the software because it took it many months to make good on its promise. The new Driving Mode is only now starting to roll out to more people in the US as an early preview.
Until now, Google Maps and Waze (also owned by Google) were the only navigation apps to be fully supported on Android Auto — others were restricted to the phone interface. This is now changing as popular alternative Sygic becomes one of the first third-party navigation apps to have native support for Android Auto.
Although a bunch of cars now come with advanced navigation systems, these can rarely beat the simplicity and expansibility of Android Auto. Sadly, though, Google's in-car service isn't globally available, leaving many users unable to properly use their favorite services from their ride's dashboard. Thankfully, Android Auto is expanding to 36 more countries, making it seamless to get directions, play music, and interact with Assistant, thanks to native integration with your car's infotainment system.
Android may be all about customization, but Android Auto hasn't allowed much room for self-expression since its launch. That looks to be changing soon, as a recent teardown of the Android Auto app indicates that users might soon be able to choose from a selection of wallpapers to take homescreen theming to the next level.
Operating systems are incredibly complex pieces of software, so it's perhaps not too surprising that despite several beta releases, a few bugs snuck into the final release of Android 11. The update has apparently caused issues with Android Auto, leading to some drivers being unable to play music or read notifications.
Android Auto's download count over on the Play Store is positively exploding. In a mere four months, the app has gone from 500 million installs to over a billion. Only six months before that, it was at 100 million. That's an incredible order of magnitude of growth in less than a year.