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Android Auto update includes car games and split-screen function

Roadshow logo Roadshow 2/23/2021 Sean Szymkowski
graphical user interface, application: Woo, new features! Google © Provided by Roadshow Woo, new features! Google

Google's gone ahead and polished up its in-car smartphone mirroring system, Android Auto. On Tuesday, the company announced a handful of updates coming to the popular infotainment replacement that should make the system easier to use, and provide a little more entertainment for passengers.

On the interface side of things, Google implemented new shortcuts to keep the features you want most ready and quickly available. For example, shortcuts can quickly take you to your contacts list, pull up the Google Assistant or even tinker with your home's temperature if you have a compatible thermostat in the house. For cars with "wider screens," Android Auto will now include a split-screen view, too. When enabled, drivers can see a real-time view of Google Maps and media controls to further consolidate functions on the screen. Don't want people plucking away at your screen while motoring along? Google has a solution for that, too, as it rolls out a privacy screen option to control when the system appears on your car's display.

graphical user interface, application © Google

The updates bundle some nifty in-car games as well. Not games to pull your eyes off the road, but basic games running with Google Assistant as a moderator of sorts. Voice-activated games such as Jeopardy will run via Android Auto now, so you can burn some time on a road trip with good ol' fashioned trivia. It all starts with the assistant's wake-up phrase, "Hey, Google." From there ask the system to play a game.

On top of it all, custom wallpapers become a thing with the spring update, so you can choose from a variety of "car-inspired" backgrounds, rather than stick with the usual look, should you desire.

Google said the update will work with any phone running Android 6.0 or newer. And although spring doesn't start just yet, users should begin to receive the update in the coming days. And you can read more about all the new things coming to Android right here.

Hands on with widescreen Android Auto in the 2020 Lexus RX

a view of a car

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This was originally published on Roadshow.

First published on Feb. 23, 2021 at 9:07 a.m. PT.
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