(Pocket-lint) – Google is looking to shake things up with a big change to Android Auto, according to a new report. Auto Evolution’s Bogdan Popa, citing code in the current builds of the Android Auto, has claimed January 2021 will see the release of a massive update to the infotainment system with “several notable” features.
Google and Apple are vying for dominance in in-car tech, with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, respectively. Both systems allowing you to use your phone to slave the display in your car for a familiar view, filled with the apps you know and offering a voice assistant that actually works. Of the two, Android Auto is usually more progressive. Apple CarPlay tends to look nicer, but Android Auto is more flexible, offering both in-car and on-device versions, choices for navigation, and support for things like in-car buttons.
However, with Android Auto 6.0, Google plans to add key new features that will help its infotainment system to better rival Apple’s CarPlay.
For instance, it will most likely include wallpaper support, a feature Popa said Google has been working on since 2019. This means you will be able to select a new background for Android Auto on your head unit. Google will reportedly offer pre-loaded images to choose from. Keep in mind Apple also allows users to select a different wallpaper on CarPlay.
Google is planning to add Google Assistant shortcuts, too, so you can perform hands-free tasks, such as the ability to create automations pinned to the home screen. Google Assistant could then run a series of actions with the press of an icon. In fact, Assistant Routines are expected to come to Android Auto. Android Auto 6.0 could also include a VPN warning about the app being blocked, and some head units may get a home screen icon for exiting Android Auto.
Poppa said Android Auto 6.0 is expected to go live in a matter of weeks, so we’ll let know all the newest features available as Google confirms them.
Writing by Maggie Tillman.