Android Auto, Google's smartphone mirroring system, has been given its first major makeover since it was introduced in 2015. Incoming calls are announced, with another small interface pane sliding in at the bottom of the screen from which you can answer or reject.
Other changes include a new dark theme, and better support for widescreen displays with more information displayed. However, by figuring out to how to reduce the size its speech recognition library to under half a gigabyte, Google has made it possible for the Assistant will be able to respond to voice commands completely using on-device, without the need to ping the cloud. Google also mentions that Android Auto will now start playing media when you first start the vehicle, and it will start up your navigation app of choice.
Google says it will launch Focus Mode on phones running Android 9.0 Pie and newer this fall. Google will be adding more of these "Picks for you" later in the year, starting with things like podcasts and recipes, and they'll be showing up across all Assistant-powered devices, like the Google Home Hub. In a new notification center, drivers will get centralized information about all of their communications, including recent calls, messages and alerts. Rather than a second interface for your phone, Android Automotive is a complete, standalone software that underpins a car's infotainment stack, and incorporates controls for vehicle-related functions like the HVAC system, windows, locks and so on.
Android Auto is in for a refresh. For example, Android Auto's update focuses on making more useful information available with fewer screen taps.
What makes Google Assistant Driving Mode special is that there's no special app to download. The aforementioned automakers have been working closely with Google to modify the system to mesh with their own brand design motifs as well, so in some instances, you might not even recognize Android Automotive from the outset.