Wallpapers are not the only new thing rolling out to Android Auto users this week, Google is also turning on some useful features to simplify activities while driving. Users can now add custom shortcuts to the launcher to quickly call preselected contacts or enable Google Assistant commands. Along with this, Google Assistant routines are available again after more than two years since they mysteriously stopped working through Auto.
If you were an Auto user back in mid-2018, you may have had the opportunity to use Google Assistant routines while driving. The feature worked for a while, but it was quietly disabled in October of that year. A little over a year later, Google acknowledged this, but did not confirm that a solution was planned. However, it seems that things have started to work again.
Shortcuts solve one of the biggest problems with Android Auto: Give voice commands when you can not give or trust voice commands. Whether it’s calling your friends with names like Isla and Saoirse, navigating to a complicated street address, or just giving basic commands while you have a sleeping passenger, there are times when you can’t trust Google Assistant. to get something done. You can now work around this issue by creating shortcuts.
Adding a custom shortcut is as simple as opening the Android Auto settings (most people will probably open the Settings app and search for “Auto”), tap Customize launch, and then Add a shortcut. Options are limited to calling preselected contacts or enabling Google Assistant commands, but the latter gives you a lot of flexibility. Now you can automate common tasks and simplify your driving activities.
Setting up a shortcut to call someone is as simple as selecting an entry from your contact list, but an assistant action gives you the ability to enter freeform commands. While you have the ability to enter simple sentences to get something done, you can also take advantage of the recently re-enabled multi-step routines you have customized on your phone to do quite a bit more.
This should allow for quite a bit of automation if you take the time to prepare actions in advance. Common options may include asking your Nest thermostat to start heating your home, navigating to an address, sending messages and much more.
All of these features seem to have rolled out to everyone in the last day or so. If you do not see them yet, try restarting your phone or updating the Android Auto app.