Android Automotive might just be the most exciting thing going in the world of Android. Not to be confused with the older Android Auto, Automotive is a ground-up open source operating system for managing a car's entire interaction with the driver. We've seen a lot of commitments from manufacturers like Chevy and Ford, but so far few production vehicles are ready to roll with Android Automotive. French manufacturer Renault might just get the next one out: its new all-electric Mégane E-Tech crossover.
One of the little Google features we probably all take for granted is being able to easily find services near to us via Maps, Assistant, Search, etc. Unfortunately, some Android Auto users have been encountering a bug that meant searching for anything "near me" or "nearby" would return results close to the users' homes, rather than their current location. Thankfully, Google says it's rolled out a fix.
Google Maps is generally pretty darn great, but it's always good to have alternatives. There have been a variety of new navigation tools for the Android Auto system over the last few months, including Waze, TomTom, and Gaia, all taking advantage of new third-party API options. The latest is Yandex.Maps, the popular mapping app from Russia-based Yandex.
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.
It took several years for Google to allow Android Auto head units to run third-party navigation apps instead of its own Maps service. As expected, Waze was the first on board, then more followed suit, including TomTom NaviGO. But all of those are made for typical route-following drivers. What if you want to take your 4x4 on an off-road adventure? You'd need a specialized app for that, like Gaia, and now it's just landed on Auto.