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Google releases new Android Auto with revised design, digital car key support and integrated WhatsApp calls

Android Auto's new feature set is finally out of beta. (Image source: Google)
Android Auto's new feature set is finally out of beta. (Image source: Google)
Google has started rolling out a new version of Android Auto, originally codenamed Coolwalk. Announced last year at Google I/O 2022, the update brings several new features to the company's car entertainment interface, as well as a UI overhaul.

Google has finally released an updated Android Auto, which leaked almost a year ago before debuting in May at Google I/O 2022. The update has spent nearly two months in public beta too, but a blog post confirms that is has now reached stable status. Unfortunately, some features are locked to certain smartphones, although its revised design should be device agnostic.

In the same blog post, Google explains that Android Auto now always displays Google Maps on the driver's side, seemingly to emphasise navigation. For reference, it was previously possible to switch focus between apps on some wide-screen in-car displays. Additionally, Android Auto has received a Material You shake-up, as well as improved Google Assistant functionality for providing smart suggestions. Better still, you can now select a specific point during a song or a podcast within the media viewer by tapping the progress bar. For some reason, Google has omitted this feature within Android Auto until now.

Separately, Samsung Galaxy and Pixel 7 series owners can make WhatsApp calls within Android Auto after applying the update; presumably, this feature will eventually be available to other smartphones. Moreover, Google has expanded its digital car key-sharing functionality to select Samsung smartphones, with some Xiaomi smartphones joining the party later this year. Currently, Android Auto's digital car key is more or less a BMW exclusive, but Google hopes that this will continue to expand across more car brands, albeit without providing a timeline for doing so. You can read Google's full changes in its corresponding blog post.

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> Expert Reviews and News on Laptops, Smartphones and Tech Innovations > News > News Archive > Newsarchive 2023 01 > Google releases new Android Auto with revised design, digital car key support and integrated WhatsApp calls
Alex Alderson, 2023-01- 6 (Update: 2023-01- 6)