Auto Tech

Finding your favorite tunes just got easier in Android Auto

Whether you're browsing, searching or just cycling through your favorites, media access in Android Auto is taking a big step forward.

Android Auto Revision

Big album art makes it easy to pick from your regular favorites.

Tim Stevens/Roadshow

While Android Auto offers solid and safe access to much of the audio-only media on your phone while you're driving, finding that perfect track or album can sometimes be a wee bit clumsy. With the latest update, things are getting easier. The new version of Android Auto, released today, makes media previews bigger and brings them right up to the top.

Now when you're browsing media, Android Auto will show things like album art first, making it easy to get your favorite tracks spinning with just a stab of the finger. If you need something that isn't surfaced right at the top of the page, a quick search based on the first letter of the track or album will filter things down. If that's not enough, voice searches can now return a list of all the matching media results. Just pick the one you want.

Enabling these features requires a little work by app developers, and so far Spotify, iHeartRadio and Google Play Music have had updates. Play Music is the one I subscribe to and so it's what I used for testing, and while the new media updates do make it quicker to pick from Recents, you sadly still can't browse artists or albums. Someday the developers will finally add that option... maybe.

Android Auto Revision

Searching for media is easy with the pop-up keyboard.

Tim Stevens/Roadshow

The updates aren't all playlist-related, however. MMS and group messaging are now supported, and if you opt in, you can even get an onscreen preview of text messages -- assuming the car is stopped.

No revolutionary changes, then, but useful steps toward making Android Auto that much more useful and powerful, all with the goal of getting more people to put their phones down and keep their eyes on the road. Look for the update in the Play Store within the next few days.