Android Auto is almost ready for split screen mode as streaming video apps come to Automotive

While most of the major Google I/O 2022 announcements came during yesterday’s keynote or in sessions shortly after, day two still has some exciting product-specific reveals. During a session devoted to Android for cars, several substantial changes were announced that will make the in-car experience more convenient and enjoyable.

Perhaps the biggest change coming is the launch of the highly anticipated split screen mode. First noticed late last year, this mode puts the navigation view, media player, and contextual overlay all on the same screen. The new layout adapts to any screen size and aspect ratio and reorients the design to make the most of the space.

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Google previously released an update that adds the ability to send smart replies in response to messages, but this seems to be just some of the contextual actions users can take with just a few taps. For example, the split screen demo video also shows an action that allows users to share their estimated time of arrival with a contact.

Split screen mode is expected to roll out “just in time for summer,” which probably means within the next six weeks or so.

Cars with built-in Google (formerly known as Android Automotive) are also in need of something new, as they will soon be able to play videos for free while the car is parked. Originally announced earlier this year with YouTube as the focus, there are now more streaming apps on the list, including Tubi and Epix Now. This gives drivers more ways to enjoy themselves while charging their car or waiting to pick up food.

Google is also planning to extend this capability to support Google Cast, making it even easier to find videos to play while you wait. A web browser is also in the works, giving motorists another way to conduct roadside research.

Nothing specific has been said about how long this will take to roll out, and it’s not clear if all of these features will be coming at the same time. However, if the original announcement is correct, video playback may be temporarily exclusive to Volvo before it rolls out to other brands.

Since this is a developer conference, there are a few new things for the app makers as well. The biggest detail is that apps can now be built to focus on a single library that works with both Android Auto and Android Automotive OS, saving a lot of time and energy when building and publishing separate variants.

New app templates and categories have also been added to support more types of parking and navigation apps, as well as adding “driver apps” to the navigation category, allowing companies like Lyft to provide custom tools suitable for their drivers.

These and several other new features have been added as part of Car App Library v1.3. New APIs also give media apps the ability to make recommendations for Google Assistant’s proposed listening feature, and new tools to improve the navigation experience, such as “alerts” to inform drivers about things like traffic cameras.

While we’ve seen some of these things in recent months, Google is showing off much more refined and polished versions that show the in-car strategy is on the right track.


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