Google Maps on Android Auto gets a design tweak that will help drivers on the road

Andorid Auto Google Maps redesign
Google Maps is rolling out a new design for the Maps app on Android Auto. The new design adds a sidebar to the Maps experience in your car where controls live.

Previously, map controls were only displayed when you interacted with the map. But with the new design, the controls are always visible in a translucent bar on the left side of the screen.

This information comes from SmartDroid and 9to5Google, which have been able to replicate this experience as seen in the screenshot above. The new translucent bar's controls includes zoom, changing the map's orientation, changing what is said out loud by the assistant, and access to additional settings.

The new design appears to be in its testing stages although some users are already reporting seeing it on Android Auto v10 and v9.9 with Google Maps v11.90. This version isn't live yet for everyone and it is not yet clear if the new design will be available for older versions of Android Auto.

The new Android Auto design has a very significant benefit: It makes it easier to access map controls while you're driving since they are now positioned closer to the driver — at least in the U.S. — and you no longer have to fumble around with the touchscreen to find the controls you need. Even if you're not familiar with the app, this new design makes the most used controls more visible and easier to get to.

Note, though, that this view only shows up when the app is taking up the full screen and not when it is using the Coolwalk split-view redesign that Android Auto introduced a few months back. This also follows a redesign of how the Google Assistant appears in your console, showing more consistency with what you see when you use the Assistant on your phone.

That said, this tweak to Maps on Android Auto is a welcome improvement. It makes it easier to use Maps while you're driving, and it provides a more consistent look and feel across Android Auto apps.

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