Android Auto, Google's platform that allows drivers to interact with their Android phones through their car's head unit, has been kicking around since 2015 without any significant updates. However, that could change very soon, if new information in Google's I/O conference app discovered by 9to5Google is anything to go by.
We're less than a week away from I/O 2018, which kicks off on May 8 at Google's Mountain View, Calif. headquarters. The I/O Android app, which serves as a guide to the festivities, has listed "a brand new media experience for Android Auto" as one of the Sandboxes at the event, where visitors can go hands-on with Google's latest work.
The description mentions a "new automotive interface" both for phones and in-car displays that will make it "easier and faster than ever before to surface content to users." A car equipped with the new software will be present at I/O, along with updates to the tentatively-named Android in the Car platform, Google's infotainment system that builds Android into vehicles. That's not to be confused with Android Auto, which runs externally from a phone atop an automaker's existing OS.
Because of its deeper integration, Android In The Car should bring more extensive features that neither CarPlay nor Android Auto support, like climate control, the ability to adjust the windows and sunroof, and more. These functions, which tie more closely into the vehicle itself, surely won't make it into the Android Auto redesign.
Rather, Google is saying a few of its own apps, including Maps, Assistant and Play Store, have been adapted to fit Android Auto's new interface. Some third-party developers are following suit as well, revamping their apps to fit the new aesthetic.
The prospect of Android Auto getting a new look isn't surprising, considering we've been hearing for quite a while now that Google has a major redesign in store for Android P. If there are serious changes afoot for the mobile OS, Android Auto in its current state would look stale by comparison — so the time seems right for a fresh start.