Paint it black: Android Auto gains dark mode and new UI

Google’s approach to in-car navigation and technology, Android Auto, gets a fresh coat of paint this summer. Key among the changes is a new, default dark mode.

The phone-powered entertainment and information center that is Android Auto is approaching five years old and, as such, is due for a design refresh. Things have changed in the half-decade since launch and Google feels it has a more intuitive way of doing things.

The new look to Android Auto will be shown off at Google I/O 2019 but we’ve already got a few screen shots to see get a glimpse of what is in store.

Since we started five years ago, Android Auto has expanded to support more than 500 car models from 50 different brands, and we aren’t pumping the brakes there!

As you can see from the images here, the new UI is more in line with today’s design language and features a persistent navigation bar at the bottom. Rather than white buttons on a black background, users will see some apps taking over larger swaths of the screen and offering more control.

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  • Get on the road faster: As soon as you start your car, Android Auto will continue playing your media and show your navigation app of choice. Simply tap on a suggested location or say “Hey Google” to navigate to a new place.
  • Stay on top of your apps: With the new navigation bar, you’ll be able to see your turn-by-turn directions and control your apps and phone on the same screen.
  • Do more with less taps: With the new navigation bar, you’ll be able to easily control your apps with one tap. Get turn-by-turn directions, rewind your podcast or take incoming call all on the same screen.
  • Easily manage communications: The new notification center shows recent calls, messages and alerts, so you can choose to view, listen and respond at a time that’s convenient and safe for you.
  • A color palette that’s easy on the eyes: We’re evolving Android Auto’s design to fit in better with your car’s interior. A dark theme, coupled with colorful accents and easier to read fonts, also helps improve visibility.
  • A screen fit for more cars: If you have a car with a wider screen, Android Auto now maximizes your display to show you more information, like next-turn directions, playback controls and ongoing calls.

Using Google Maps, for instance doesn’t require you to have the full app open on the display. The navigation bar shows your step-by-step directions at the bottom, similar to how it works on your phone. Likewise, if you have Spotify playing in the background, you can have the playback controls show at the bottom of your map.

The navigation bar also offers instant access to Google Assistant, making the tool even more readily available.

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