Android Auto and Android Automotive in Apple design

Google's parent company Alphabet has presented a new design for Android Auto smartphone integration and the Android Automotive car operating system. Both are reminiscent of Apple's design.

It is better to copy well than to do badly yourself: Google took this motto to heart when revising the user interface (UI) of Android Auto and Android Automotive and took big steps towards the proven design of Approximate Apple's Carplay. It should be said at this point: Google's UI was never bad.

What's new in Android Auto Coolwalk?

More than a year ago, Google announced that it would revise the user interface for Android Auto smartphone integration. The latest version of the smartphone software has been rolling out since the beginning of the month, and with it the Coolwalk update for Android Auto. Drivers whose car has rotary knob infotainment reported spotting the new design in beta on the vehicle display.

While most drivers haven't even seen the new Android Auto version yet due to the staggered launch of the software, Android has now published a short video in which the new features are clearly visible to everyone.

Android Auto with split screen

The most striking thing is probably the new split screen display. There are three variants. On widescreen displays, Google Maps is located on the right, about halfway across the display, for navigation. The left half is divided into three fields. A taskbar is located at the very edge, similar to what is known from Apple CarPlay. There you can find the time, the battery level of the smartphone as well as the WiFi strength and network coverage. Including the recently opened apps and the icon for the Google Assistant. At the bottom you can see the notification bell and the app menu icon.

Two more widgets are displayed one below the other between the taskbar and the navigation system: the media player and a variable widget that seems to adapt to the last function. For example, it shows the predicted arrival time of the route planning or brings functions such as reading out or replying to the start screen when a message is received.

Responsive design for more flexibility

With screens in portrait format, such as Volvo or Polestar, and with less wide displays, there is also this division into four different fields. However, the taskbar moves down and the three widgets arrange themselves appropriately on the screen according to a responsive design approach, with the navigation map always taking up by far the largest space.

Here, Google goes a significant step further than Apple and enables more variety in the display.A welcome approach, because the adaptable, responsive design means that there are no black fields or artificially blocked blank areas on the display and the functions can be used optimally according to the vehicle's capabilities.

What's new in Android Automotive in the Honda Accord?

Some changes are also visible in Android Automotive, Google's operating system for cars. The latest finish will make its debut on the US version of the 2023 Honda Accord.

While Android Auto is just a smartphone integration with which cell phone functions can be displayed and operated on the vehicle display, Android Automotive is software that can be used to control vehicle functions. These include air conditioning and window regulators. But classic infotainment functions are also implemented - such as navigation, radio or the hands-free system.

Android Automotive as standard in the Honda Accord

Android Auto is now to be used as standard in the new Honda Accord and controlled via the 12.3-inch display in the center console. In contrast to Android Auto, the design of Android Automotive is also independent at Honda. As with vehicles that have long been based on the Google operating system - such as Polestar or Volvo - and on a tile design.

At Honda, Android Automotive is divided into three parts. There is a taskbar on the far left – similar to Android Auto. There is a home button and a back button at the top. The Google Assistant voice control can be activated directly below. Below are three apps: Google Maps, the radio and the smartphone projection. It remains to be seen whether these apps are permanently stored as favorites or, as is usual with smartphone integrations, only display the last three functions used.

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Google Play Store with well-known smartphone apps for the car

To the right of the taskbar, either the available menu items of the vehicle or the contents of the infotainment are displayed. That means: From the energy distribution of the hybrid drive of the Honda Accord to the telephone function and the navigation, Google's Play Store can also be displayed there. Incidentally, in addition to the Spotify app, the Play Store also offers YouTube Music as a supported music streaming app, as can be seen in the pictures from Honda. The download of the apps from the store then works in the same way as you know it from a smartphone.

Various widgets are available on the far right, about a quarter of the 12.3 inch display. For example, an analogue clock can be displayed here, the song currently being played including the album title and the profile name of the Google account with which you logged into the car.According to previous Android Automotive versions, you will probably also be able to change profile settings there.

No more tiles for Android Automotive

With the new design, Honda and Google are giving up one of the great unique selling points of Android Automotive. Because while, for example, with the tile-shaped implementation that we know from Volvo and Polestar, several functions could be kept in view at the same time, these options are now much more limited.

Conclusion

Google continues to gain momentum with its mobility projects. While Google Maps recently attracted attention with a few updates, it is now Android Auto and Android Automotive. Many of the changes are going in the right direction, with some innovations Google adapting to the mainstream. It remains to be seen where Google will attack in 2023. It's been a long time since we heard anything about Waymo's robotic taxis. So it's time for some news.

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