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I wish Android Auto’s dashboard better supported multiple split-screen apps

2 weeks ago 24

The latest redesign of Android Auto brings a useful new “dashboard” view that can show multiple pieces of information at once, but I wish it was better at supporting multiple apps at once.

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The “dashboard” view of Android Auto, also known as “Coolwalk,” debuted in 2023 with a focus on showing more information at once. While having Google Maps up, you could also see media controls, weather details, and more. The layout varies wildly depending on your car’s screen size, aspect ratio, and resolution (tip: you can adjust those options). But, for the most part, you can only see one full app at any given time.

Technically, you can have multiple apps running at once on Android Auto. On big and wide screens, two apps can be shown side-by-side and switch places. As pictured below, the “Weather & Radar” app can appear alongside Google Maps when navigation is running, as enabled by an update to the app this week. (MyRadar, another Android Auto weather app, supports similar functionality)

The weather app in this scenario gets most of the screen, while Maps shows up smaller along the side.

That is super useful!

android auto weather radar dashboard

But, alas, that’s just not available to most cars. That’s because Android Auto prioritizes showing two things. Your mapping app and your media controls. Depending on the size and layout of your display, you might also see a weather tile or one for Google Maps locations, and something could, at any point, be swapped out with a recent message.

But what I wish it could do is just let you show full apps. I’d love to be able to use Google Maps and Spotify as full, side-by-side apps. The currently media player tile only shows you the current track and limited controls, and a swipe page that shows a handful of recommended pieces of content from the app. You can’t select a new album or playlist of your choice without tapping through to the full app, which ends up minimizing your mapping app. Wouldn’t it be nice to have a full music app display side-by-side, on whatever display you’re using?

At the very least, I wish I could more reliably use a media app without giving up Google Maps on my rectangular display. A slim Maps view off to the opposite side with a small view for the media app would be so handy.

Will this happen? Probably not.

I can see Google’s potential argument against this. On some displays, things could easily get cluttered, or touch targets could be too small. But I think there’s room for Android Auto to expand with this sort of functionality in mind, down the road.

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