Google on Thursday announced new versions of its Android Auto and Google Assistant driving mode experience, improving the ways in which drivers interact with their phones and vehicles.
New to Android Auto are features that include recommendations for music, news, and podcasts whenever the app starts. Moreover, you’ll also be able to enjoy Gamesnacks, or bite-sized games on the in-car display. These titles will be playable when parked or while waiting on your vehicle to charge or for that Doordash delivery.
Additionally, dual-SIM phone users can now pick which SIM to use for making calls through Android Auto. Further, it will support work profiles, meaning it will show you upcoming messages and scheduled meetings.
Perhaps the coolest feature, though, is the new “Hey Google, pay for gas” command which does just that – it lets users pay for gas through contactless payment in Google Pay. You’ll simply select the pump number and complete the transaction. Things get started at some 32,500 locations across the US with Exxon, Mobil, Conoco, Phillips 66, and 76 stations.
Google Assistant driving mode is more or less being pulled out of the Google Maps experience and into the virtual assistant. In the near future users will be able to say “Hey Google, let’s drive” to open the driving mode dashboard.
The dashboard will present glanceable cards which can be tapped on for starting navigation, checking recent calls and text, and resuming media from a host of services. Among those will be Amazon Music, Audible, iHeartRadio, Pandora, SoundCloud, Spotify, YouTube Music, and others.
Those of you who drive an electric vehicle will soon be able to take advantage of another command, “Hey Google, find me a charging station”. Using just your voice, the in-dash experience will show you real-time availability, payment types, and speed preferences.
Looking ahead, Honda will join the ranks of manufacturers offering the full built-in infotainment experience with Google Assistant, Google Maps, and more. The newest partner will launch its first Android Auto vehicles in 2022.