Android Auto Update Adds Games, Switching Between Profiles

In the digital age, our cars sometimes get new features for free while they sit parked. That can happen without the owner or the automaker lifting a finger. Case in point – Android Auto users will soon wake up to find that their cars are capable of all kinds of new tricks, courtesy of Google.

What is Android Auto?

For the uninitiated – Android Auto is a system that lets Android-based phones interface with a car’s infotainment system. It lets drivers control their phones through the car’s touchscreen and voice commands. Owners can send and receive text messages (Google Assistant will read them aloud), control music and navigation apps, and manage their calendars without taking their hands off the wheel.

It works with a wired connection on many cars, but newer models may have a wireless version. It’s not present on all cars. It was launched in 2015, and automakers have been slowly adding it to many new cars as they redesign them. Drivers can add it to a pre-2015 car, though, by upgrading their infotainment system.

Apple has a similar product, known as CarPlay. Some cars have just one or the other system, but many offer both.

New Features: Custom Driving Screens, Games (When Parked)

With the new update, users can switch between their phone’s personal and business profiles with voice commands.

Android Auto will now allow users to configure a custom launch screen, different from their phone’s normal home screen, that appears only in the car. It’s ideal for those who want their favorite navigation app to be the easiest thing to find while driving but never need it when they’re not.

The update also allows users to play phone games on the car’s touchscreen when in park.

Google Assistant Gets Driving Update, Too

For those without a screen in the car, Google Assistant has its own drive mode. The company has updated that as well.

Users can now activate driving mode with the voice command “hey, Google, let’s drive.” It creates a separate driving home screen with large icons for the most commonly used apps, so you can easily tap Spotify without searching for it. Google Pay is now also compatible with Exxon, Mobil, Conoco, Phillips 66, and 76 gas stations. At participating stations, drivers can pay for gas remotely simply by saying, “Hey, Google, pay for gas.”

The updates have begun rolling out and should reach all users within a few weeks.