Google Updates Android Auto Smartphone Interface

Alphabet Inc.’s Google unit has enhanced the functionality and graphics of its Android Auto in-vehicle interface for smartphones.

The new design, which more closely mirrors a smartphone screen and rival Apple Inc.’s CarPlay interface, includes a streamlined main menu that allows users to launch apps faster. Users also can access notifications and launch the voice assistant directly from the main screen.

If the navigation app is running, turn-by-turn directions will continue to be displayed when other features are used. The current system requires users to view such information separately on different screens.

The system will synch with the vehicle’s central display screen as soon as the ignition is started. A user’s navigation app of choice will be displayed, and the car’s audio system automatically switches to whatever was playing on the smartphone.

Visually, the redesigned interface will use a darker color palette with more colorful accents to make it easier to see. Vehicles with larger display screens will show more features to maximize the added space.

Introduced in 2015, Android Auto is now available in more than 500 nameplates from 50 vehicle brands. The updated system will launch this summer.