One Google Maps Feature Android Auto Needs Right Here and Now

While Google Maps is currently the number one mobile navigation app out there, it doesn’t necessarily mean that everybody is using it.
Google Maps on Android Auto 6 photos
Photo: Google
Android Auto interfaceAndroid Auto interfaceAndroid Auto interfaceAndroid Auto interfaceAndroid Auto interface
On Android Auto, for example, some users stick with Waze, simply because they want to rely on the crowdsourcing engine bundled with the app to beat the traffic jams in their regions.

In other words, Google Maps is indeed a worthy solution, but on the other hand, people must be able to choose whether they want to use it not.

Most likely, you can already figure out where this is going. Google Maps is often the recommended choice for Android Auto users, and what’s more, it even launches automatically when the mobile device is connected to the head unit in a car.

Here’s how the whole thing works.

When your Android device, regardless of the brand or model, is plugged into the USB port of your car and Android Auto launches, Google Maps also loads automatically. No matter if you want it or not, that is, as the navigation app shows up on the screen, all in an attempt to make the experience more straightforward.

However, this isn’t happening for everybody out there, and it sometimes depends on the apps you’ve left running before disconnecting the mobile device. If you were navigating with Waze and you unplug the phone, then the next time you connect it to the head unit, Android Auto should resume the previous session.

Android Auto interface
Photo: Google

The bad news

Google Maps launching automatically on Android Auto has long been a major annoyance for people who just wanted to listen to some tunes behind the wheel or to make a quick phone call.

A discussion thread on Google’s forums first signaled the lack of an option to block Google Maps from automatically running back in 2019. And since then, the thread has been growing and growing, so right now, it has nearly 500 upvotes and over 150 replies from other users struggling with the whole thing.

Two years and a half later, the same behavior is still happening on Android Auto, with users explaining they don’t always want to use Google Maps but to listen to music or make a phone call.

Obviously, no workaround is known to exist, other than disabling the Google Maps service on the mobile device, in which case Android Auto may not work at all because it needs location services as well.

Android Auto interface
Photo: Google

The good news

On the other hand, back in September 2021, Google confirmed it was working on a way to let users decide what apps they want to launch when Android Auto loads in a car.

In theory, the Mountain View-based search giant is developing a switch that will make it possible for everybody running Android Auto to just pick the apps they want to automatically load whenever they connect their mobile devices to the head unit in their cars, either wirelessly or with a cable.

Nevertheless, the company hasn’t provided an ETA as to when this option could go live for users out there, so right now, many people out there are still struggling with a configuration that shouldn’t by any means be enforced in the car.

2022 could be the year of change for Android Auto, especially as Google has already promised a series of big updates, including dual-SIM support. Many of these improvements are based on user feedback, so in theory, the auto-launch configuration setting should also go live as part of these releases.

At this point, however, Google is still tight-lipped on an ETA regarding the debut of this highly anticipated option. A new Android Auto update should go live in the coming weeks (before the end of January), so fingers crossed for some actually useful new features to be included.
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About the author: Bogdan Popa
Bogdan Popa profile photo

Bogdan keeps an eye on how technology is taking over the car world. His long-term goals are buying an 18-wheeler because he needs more space for his kid’s toys, and convincing Google and Apple that Android Auto and CarPlay deserve at least as much attention as their phones.
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