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Android Auto Enhances User Experience with “Parked-Only” App Indicators

Android Auto

TL;DR: Google’s Android Auto now shows a “P” badge next to apps meant to be used only when your car is parked.

Google’s Android Auto is revving its user interface by introducing a nifty feature that significantly shifts how drivers interact with their in-car technology.

In an update catching eyes and making headlines, Android Auto will now flag apps that are only functional when the car is parked. Initially spotted by the keen observers at SmartDroid.de, this development introduces a simple yet effective “P” badge on app icons, signaling that these apps are “parked-only.”

Android Auto Park Mode

For the uninitiated, Android Auto and its more integrated sibling, the Android Automotive OS (AAOS), serves as Google’s bridge to merging car infotainment with the vast ecosystem of Android apps. The distinction between the two systems is straightforward yet profound.

Android Auto transforms your car’s dashboard screen into an extension of your smartphone, while AAOS is woven into the vehicle’s fabric, offering a standalone Android experience. Despite their shared app pool, a common gripe among users has been underutilization of the car’s screen potential due to safety lockouts, limiting access to features like full Google Maps results or comprehensive music libraries.

The move to label “parked-only” apps aims to alleviate some of this frustration. It’s a step towards acknowledging that cars, especially those parked, can serve as more than just vehicles but as entertainment and utility hubs.

The feature contrasts with the likes of Tesla, which offers an entire gaming library via Steam for parked cars, highlighting Android Auto’s more conservative approach to in-car entertainment.

Google’s initiative to diversify the functionality of AAOS, with parked-only versions of Chrome and the introduction of video apps like PBS KIDS and Crunchyroll, hints at a broader ambition. It’s an ambition to transform parked moments into opportunities for productivity and leisure without the need to reach for your phone.

This seemingly minor update is a glimpse into a future where the line between mobile and automotive Android ecosystems blurs, making our cars smarter, safer, and more suited to our digital lives.


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