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  1. Web giant tells us it's considering its response to €100m fine demand Google was tickled with a €100m fine by Italy’s monopoly watchdog on Thursday for unfairly holding back an Android app maker. The Italian Competition Authority said Google “holds a dominant position” in the industry, given its curated Play Store that comes with Android, and that about three quarters of smartphones in the Euro nation run the operating system. As gatekeepers of this software bazaar, Google controls what apps are allowed, and what access third-party developers can have with its own apps or services. Not only that, but Google abuses this position and favors its own applications, breaking European law, the regulator said. The fine is equivalent to about £86m or $121m. Google accountants must already be checking down the back of the couch to collect up loose change to pay it: its parent Alphabet banked $18bn (€15bn) in profit in the first quarter of 2021. The watchdog decided to extract some coins from the Chocolate Factory after Google refused to allow Italian energy company Enel X Italia to port its JuicePass app, which shows vehicle charging spots and reservations at electric car-charging points, to the Android Auto car operating system. This goes against Article 102 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, the authority said. Google has consequently favored its own Google Maps app, which runs on Android Auto “Google did not allow Enel X Italia to develop a version of its JuicePass app compatible with Android Auto, a specific Android feature that allows apps to be used while the user is driving in compliance with safety, as well as distraction reduction, requirements,” the Italian Competition Authority said in a statement. “By refusing Enel X Italia interoperability with Android Auto, Google has unfairly limited the possibilities for end users to avail themselves of the Enel X Italia app when driving and recharging an electric vehicle." The regulator then raised a crucial point: "Google has consequently favored its own Google Maps app, which runs on Android Auto and enables functional services for electric vehicle charging, currently limited to finding and getting directions to reach charging points, but which in the future could include other functionalities such as reservation and payment." The regulator said it has also "ordered Google to make available to Enel X Italia, as well as to other app developers, tools for the programming of apps that are interoperable with Android Auto and will monitor the effective and correct implementation of the imposed obligations through an independent expert to whom Google must provide all cooperation and information requested." Google said it may contest the fine. A spokesperson for the web giant told The Register: “We disagree with the authority's decision and we will review our options. “The number one priority for Android Auto is to ensure apps can be used safely while driving. That's why we have strict guidelines on the types of apps which are currently supported and these are based on driver-distraction tests and regulatory and industry standards. “Thousands of applications are already compatible with Android Auto, and our goal is to allow even more developers to make their apps available over time. For example, we have introduced templates for navigation, charging, and parking apps, open for any developer to use.” Enel X Italia was unavailable for comment. ® Source
  2. A New Android Auto Version Is Now Available with More Mysterious Improvements Google has just released a new Android Auto version, but as per the company’s typical approach, no changelog is included, which means users will have to figure out what’s been improved on their own. Android Auto 6.4 is therefore now available for download for everybody, though it’s very important to keep in mind that the rollout via the Google Play Store takes place gradually and the new version may not show up for all users just yet. If you don’t want to wait for the new version to go live in the Google Play Store in your region, you can just download the Android Auto stand-alone APK installer from this page and therefore update to the latest version manually. Google has been working on several important improvements for Android Auto lately, and there’s a chance version 6.4 continues the development in this regard. For example, one of the highly anticipated Android Auto features is a connection troubleshooter that has first been spotted in version 6.3. As you’d normally expect from a troubleshooter, the purpose of this feature is specifically to help users deal with connection problems, and as Android Auto adopters certainly know, this is so something happening way too often in the car. The new troubleshooter would not only be able to provide recommendations when connection problems are detected but also figure out when a low-quality cable is being used, therefore telling users to replace the cord. Bad cables are among the most common issues on Android Auto, so hopefully, this troubleshooter would help users get a more stable and reliable experience in the car. For the time being, there’s no ETA as to when this feature is projected to go live, as Google clearly takes its time when it comes to its development. The company typically releases these software updates, such as the new version we’re getting today, specifically to address a series of problems, though as you can see, it’s up to users to discover what’s been fixed every time. Source: A New Android Auto Version Is Now Available with More Mysterious Improvements
  3. Android Auto's split-screen feature is now live It only works on wide screens, though About a week ago, we reported Android Auto would receive a bunch of new features, including a new privacy mode and in-car games. A split-screen mode was also in the making, which has now rolled out to users. The new mode is available for cars with a widescreen view, which lets you display two apps at the same time without having to switch back and forth between the two. The main app is displayed on the left side of the screen, as it would have appeared previously, while the right side of the screen now shows another app in a smaller box. If you're showing the map in the secondary view, it will look like you're using Maps on your phone in portrait mode. The most common layout would be to show navigation and music at the same time. Sadly, not all apps support this view, as some users have reported they couldn't use it with Waze. There also doesn't seem to be a way to display an app in full screen, meaning you'd always have to stick with two windows at the same time. As the feature is new, Google might improve it in the coming months and allow users to customize the layout or de-activate split-screen view entirely. Source: Reddit Source: Android Auto's split-screen feature is now live
  4. Android 11 phones will summon Android Auto wirelessly, no need to pull out your device Google added Android Auto’s wireless connection feature in 2018 Photo by Amelia Holowaty Krales / The Verge Apple CarPlay and Google’s Android Auto both seem pretty useful for drivers — simply plug in your phone to charge, and it’ll link up with your car’s bigger touchscreen to give you directions to your doctor’s appointment, play music from your Spotify playlist, or send a text. Google also has an easier version that lets you connect wirelessly to your car stereo without even taking your phone out of your pocket — but it was limited to Google and Samsung phones. Now, Google has quietly announced that any phone running Android 11 will be able to connect to Android Auto, cable-free. Google’s updated Android Auto support page now notes that “any smartphone with Android 11.0” will be able to connect to Android Auto wirelessly. It’s likely in addition to Google and Samsung, phones from manufacturers like LG, Motorola, and OnePlus may also receive support when Android 11 exits public beta later this year. But Android 11 support for Android Auto wireless comes with a few requirements: you need to have both a phone and Android Auto head unit that supports 5GHz Wi-Fi. If you live in Japan or Russia, you won’t have access as Google says those territories do not support Android Auto’s wireless feature. Even in the EU, there are additional requirements; Google says Android phones in the EU that use 5GHz Wi-Fi in the car must “comply with additional regulatory requirements,” but we’re not quite sure what that means for you. If the idea of going cable-free sounds appealing, you might want to consider buying a wireless charger as well — after all, your phone isn’t going to be charging while it’s streaming Android Auto from your pocket. Android 11 phones will summon Android Auto wirelessly, no need to pull out your device
  5. Fix for Google Assistant's connection issues with Android Auto now rolling out Google is finally rolling out a fix for an issue pertaining to the Google Assistant in Android Auto, specifically faced by users on Android 10. The update to the Google app fixes a bug where the assistant would cite connection issues when tasked with sending messages via voice using Android Auto. The issue was first reported back in January on Android Auto’s support forums by a user running Android 10 (OneUI 2) on a Galaxy Note9. However, the issue was upvoted by more than 1200 users, suggesting that the problem was widespread and not specific to Samsung devices. Users reported that the assistant would wait for the user to dictate the entire message, request for confirmation, and immediately error out with a “This internet connection isn't strong enough at the moment” or “This internet connection isn't stable at the moment” message. A community specialist responded to the support thread (spotted by AndroidPolice) confirming that the team has released an update to the Google app to “resolve the ‘internet connection is not stable’ issue”. It is not clear if the issue has been resolved for all users, since some responses in the forums note that the problem persists, especially on Galaxy S9 and Note9 devices. It is also not clear if the problem has anything to do with OneUI 2. Fix for Google Assistant's connection issues with Android Auto now rolling out
  6. Samsung Galaxy S10 Said to Break Down Android Auto If you just bought a Samsung Galaxy S10 and Android Auto is no longer working in your car, you’re not alone. Because as it turns out, this is one of the widespread issues experienced by those who purchase the new Galaxy S10, with a discussion thread on Samsung’s community forumsindicating there are actually plenty of customers who can no longer use the phone with their cars. The errors that users encounter vary from one case to another, but most of the complains indicate that Android Auto no longer starts when connecting the phone to the car, while some say they are being asked repeatedly to put the vehicle in park mode. This is an error that I also encountered with the Note 9, but which I eventually resolved by downgrading to a previous version of Android Auto. This could actually be one of the workarounds, and I recommend you to give it a shot if you hit the issues described above.Just try an older version of Android AutoOn the other hand, some say that not even a factory reset resolves the problem, but again the behavior can persist if you install the latest Android Auto app version. There are also several complains explaining that Android Auto crashes a few minutes after load, and this particular example seems to signal some sort of compatibility issue between the app and Samsung’s new smartphone. This means only an update could resolve it, though once again, I recommend you to try an older version of Android Auto and see if it makes any difference. In my experience, Android Auto has been very buggy at certain times, so these problems might not necessarily be tied to Samsung Galaxy S10. However, future software updates should refine the experience, and while Samsung has remained tight-lipped for now, fixes shouldn’t take long to land. Source
  7. But maybe not for long Google recently integrated Android Auto with the Android 10 operating system, removing the need for a separate app. But this meant that Android 10 users who own a car with a non-compatible head unit would no longer be able to use Android Auto just on their phone, which was possible in the past. So in September, Google promised it would release a new standalone Android Auto app specifically for Android 10 users, and today, that app finally hit the Play Store. Bluntly named “Android Auto for Phone Screens,” the new app is only compatible with certain Android 10 devices, though it’s available on APK Mirror, as AndroidPolice points out. It is exactly what you expect, in that it runs the full Android Auto experience on your smartphone’s screen. Simple, right? Well, the reason Google was okay with getting rid of the standalone Android Auto app in the first place was that it was supposed to be replaced by a Google Assistant “driving mode,” which the company previewed earlier this year. But the Google Assistant driving mode is still not available, and a spokesperson told The Verge on Tuesday that there’s still “no update at this time” on when it will be released. So until that happens, this new standalone app is how Android 10 users without an Android Auto-compatible head unit will get by. If and when the new Google Assistant driving mode does finally drop, Android Auto for Phone Screens will likely go away. As The Verge’s executive editor Dieter Bohn put it in September: By the way, Google is also working on an embedded Android Automotive operating system that will start showing up in cars made by Volvo, Renault-Nissan, and General Motors in the next few years, removing the need for a smartphone altogether — which, looking at the current state of things, sounds like bliss. Source: Android Auto standalone app now available for Android 10 users (via The Verge)
  8. Android Auto’s biggest upgrade ever is finally rolling out It has a darker design and more multitasking capabilities. Earlier this year at Google I/O, Google announced a big upgrade to Android Auto, its smartphone-powered car interface and competitor to Apple's CarPlay. Now, around three months later, the interface is finally rolling out to the general public via an app update. This version of Android Auto represents the interface's first major upgrade since its launch in 2014. The biggest change to this new version of Android Auto is the way the bottom system bar works. The old version of Auto used the bottom bar kind of like a MacOS app dock. It housed shortcuts to your Maps, Contacts, and Music apps, but it also mixed in system-level navigation icons for "Home" the useless "car" screen. The new version does away with all that, sticking a home button on the left, a notification and voice command button on the right, and a middle section that keeps important controls at your fingertips. On a smartphone, Android will spawn controllable ongoing notifications for things like currently playing music or Google Maps navigation, and the middle section of the bar kind of works the same way. If you're playing music and not on the music screen, you'll see music controls. If you're navigating and not on the maps screen, your next turn-by-turn direction will pop up instead. This is a big boost to the ability to multitask on the car display—just make sure you're paying attention to the road, too. With app shortcuts booted out of the bottom bar, app selection is now done from a tried-and-true app grid. The home button opens this screen, which features a top row of predictive app icons and then a boring alphabetical list below that. The "Bell" icon brings up a list of notifications that looks a lot like the old Android Auto home screen, and the microphone button brings up the omnipresent Google Assistant. The interface gets a darker colour scheme, and for even more multi-tasking power, there's now support for split screen apps if you have a wider car display. The wider display layout makes the navigation bar a vertical strip on the left side of the screen, followed by the main interface. The shorter vertical navigation bar means there's no room for the middle app bar, so that information gets blown up to a second app panel. Presumably this changes as you navigate around the OS, just like the app bar. In other Android Auto news, Google is also announcing that the standalone mode for the Android Auto smartphone app is going away. The version above has the phone plug into specifically compatible cars, and then the phone beams an interface over to the car display (essentially using your car like a big, external touchscreen monitor). For people who didn't have a compatible car, the standalone Android Auto could previously present a similar interface on your smartphone display. Google is killing the smartphone-only functionality of the Android Auto app, and the company will instead integrate a "Driving mode" into the Google Assistant. Listing image by Google Source: Android Auto’s biggest upgrade ever is finally rolling out (Ars Technica)
  9. A new bottom bar lets you control music and maps at the same time. Google I/O is going to kick off later today, but before the big show starts, Google has pushed out an early announcement: Android Auto is getting a new look. Google's update won't arrive until "This summer," but we get screenshots today showing all the significant new additions. Google says, "The new interface is built to help you get on the road faster, show more useful information at a glance, and simplify common tasks while driving." In previous versions of Android Auto, a system bar at the bottom of the screen housed five app icons: Maps, Contacts, Home, Music, and a "car" screen (which didn't have much use). The new version removes the app shortcuts from the system bar's navigation and instead turns it into a mini app bar. There's a "Home" button" on the left, notification and voice buttons on the right, and a middle section that intelligently displays a tiny interface from either navigation or your media app. With the Map open, you'll get music controls at the bottom. With the music open, you'll see your next turn information. With most of the app navigation abilities removed from the system bar, Android Auto is switching to a tried-and-true app grid for app navigation. This grid of apps is now the new home screen, and the familiar list of notifications and suggestions (Android Auto's old home screen) now lives under the bell button. The whole app gets a darker colour scheme, and Google notes that it should be more flexible and stretch to fit more car screens properly. Google also mentions that Android Auto will now start playing media when you first start the car, and it will start up your navigation app of choice. Android Auto typically goes a long time between upgrades, and a big reason for that is the legal red tape that comes with updating a car infotainment system. Google needs the OK from tons of safety governing bodies around the world before it can do a rollout, so pushing any new code is pretty much a nightmare. Google is sharing these screenshots ahead of Google I/O, which should have a bit more information about the new Android Auto UI. While this is all just referring to the Android Auto app, which requires a tethered Android phone and a compatible car, we're also hoping to learn more about the baked-in version of Android Auto (sometimes called Android Automotive"), which will be installed directly to the car hardware. We'll be on the lookout for more Android Auto news, and we'll leave you with Google's new promotional video: Source: Android Auto gets a big UI revamp (Ars Technica) Poster's note: To view the article's image gallery, please visit the above link.
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