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A Closer Look at Android Auto’s Alternative to the CarPlay Dashboard
One of the most useful CarPlay features right now is the integrated dashboard, which allows users to run multiple apps side-by-side with the help of a card-based UI.

A Closer Look at Android Auto’s Alternative to the CarPlay Dashboard

Android Auto interfaceAndroid Auto interfaceAndroid Auto interfaceAndroid Auto interfaceAndroid Auto interfaceThe new Android Auto UI without a status barThe card-based UI in Android Auto
In other words, the user interface is split into multiple cards, each with a different purpose. The largest is supposed to be used by the navigation app (be it Google Maps, Apple Maps, Waze, or any other similar software as long as support for the dashboard is offered), while the other ones are aimed at phone calls and music apps.

Without a doubt, having all these apps running on the same screen makes everything a lot more straightforward and convenient, and in many ways, the whole approach perfectly makes sense.

Given users no longer have to toggle between apps, the distraction is substantially removed, and this is the purpose of software solutions like CarPlay in the first place.

Enter Android Auto.

The 2019 overhaul that Google introduced for Android Auto was without a doubt a major facelift that Android users really needed in their cars.

The most important new feature was the dynamic bar at the bottom of the screen, which was able to display essential navigation information or music controls when keeping another app in focus.

And while Google has been working on a split-screen mode for quite some time, such a feature pretty much made sense only on wide displays where the available screen estate allowed for easy implementation.

Now Google looks set to come up with a much more advanced solution, more or less inspired by the CarPlay dashboard.

First and foremost, Google’s idea doesn’t come down to just an evolved split-screen mode but to a full facelift that Android Auto is supposed to receive rather sooner than later.

The status bar will no longer be around, pretty much because it just eats up valuable space on the screen for almost no purpose. The essential status icons will be moved to the dynamic bar at the bottom in the lower right corner, therefore using an approach that reminds of the taskbar on Windows.

There’s a home button (think of it as the Start button launching the Start menu on Windows) that lets you access the installed apps, as well as a notification icon to see the latest notifications on Android Auto.

The split-screen mode also relies on cards (or widgets) to display more than a single app on the screen at the same time. The navigation app, be it Google Maps or Waze, will once again receive the biggest screen estate, so it’ll use the largest card. The music app, such as Spotify, will use a rather simple card displaying the artist’s name and the playing song, as well as the basic playback controls.

A third card will be used for various purposes, including displaying the weather or an incoming notification. For example, when a message lands on your mobile device, you can use this card to listen to the text or mute it.

Google is currently working on all kinds of additional refinements, and one of them is the way you can interact with the apps on the screen when this mode is enabled.

For example, the search giant wants users to be able to drag the map around without bringing the app to full focus, and most likely, navigation software like Waze will make it possible to easily send a report from the same screen.

Obviously, this new overhaul isn’t ready for prime time just yet, but Google has reportedly already implemented some of these changes in the latest beta build. There’s no ETA as to when they could be released to all users out there, but a mid-2022 launch is very likely.


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