Life Hacks

Your Comprehensive Handbook for Personalizing Android Auto

Ensure that Android functions according to your preferences while you’re traveling.

Android Auto has undergone a continuous series of enhancements over the years, evolving into a refined and dependable method for accessing your phone through your car’s dashboard while on the road—provided your vehicle’s head unit is compatible with Android Auto, of course.

Similar to customizing Android on your phone, there are multiple ways to tailor the Android Auto experience to meet your visual and functional preferences. Achieving a setup that allows for swift and intuitive interaction with the interface is crucial, especially for safety reasons. Therefore, it’s essential to configure everything to your liking.

Whether you’re a newcomer to Android Auto or a seasoned user, I’ll walk you through the diverse customization options available. (Assuming you’ve already completed the initial connection and setup process.)

Customize Android Auto on your phone

You don’t have to be in motion to begin tweaking Android Auto. Simply access Settings on your phone, navigate to Connected devices, Connection preferences, and then Android Auto. While there are numerous settings available, our focus will be on those that personalize the appearance and functionality of Android Auto.

The initial option to consider is Customize launcher. Upon selecting this, the subsequent screen allows you to determine which apps appear in the app drawer on your car dashboard. All the apps on your phone that are compatible with Android Auto will be listed, enabling you to choose the ones you want visible in your car while deselecting those you prefer not to see.

This provides a convenient way to streamline the Android Auto screen, displaying only the apps you intend to use on the go, rather than showcasing every single app on your phone with Android Auto capabilities. Additionally, take note that you can utilize the “Add a shortcut to the launcher” option to include a custom contact link or a Google Assistant action.

Once you’ve finalized your app selection, you can explore other settings in the Android Auto menu. Navigate to “Day/Night mode for maps” to specify how the Google Maps interface adjusts (or remains unchanged) based on the time of day. Utilize the “Start music automatically” toggle to decide whether audio should commence playing from your most recently used media app immediately upon Android Auto connection.

Furthermore, the “Driver seat location” and “Change layout” options enable you to make adjustments to the fundamental appearance of Android Auto on your screen. Determine whether you prefer the sidebar on the left or right, and choose the proximity of the media control widget or the navigation widget to the driver’s side.

You’ll also find several toggle switches that govern how notifications function in Android Auto, allowing you to customize their visibility. For instance, you can choose to display the first line of incoming messages on screen—a useful feature for swiftly assessing message urgency while on the road, though perhaps not ideal if there are passengers in the car.

An intriguing toggle switch is the “Taskbar widgets” option: When enabled, quick controls (like playback buttons for music apps such as Spotify) will remain visible at the bottom of the screen. If you prefer accessing these controls from the widget or full-screen view of the apps, you have the option to turn off the taskbar.

Customize Android Auto in the car

While you’re in the car with Android Auto connected, there are additional customization tricks to be aware of. Open the launcher (tap the nine-dot button in the corner if it’s not already visible) and select Settings to initiate adjustments.

Many of the options here, such as those for notifications and the day/night mode in Google Maps, are parallel to the ones accessible from your phone, providing the flexibility to modify them while on the road. An exclusive option not available on your phone is “Wallpaper”—tap on this to alter the background of the Android Auto interface.

You have a selection of various wallpapers to choose from (although using your own images is unfortunately not an option). The chosen picture doesn’t impact the driving interface but is visible on the app launcher and menu screens.

It’s important to note that all the customization options discussed here are tied to your phone and not the car itself. Consequently, if someone else also uses Android Auto in the same car, they can configure their own customization preferences, including the displayed apps, wallpaper backdrop, and more.