Google Maps rolls out redesigned sidebar on Android Auto

Android Auto is one of the best ways to mirror your Android phone’s apps and content to your car’s infotainment system. The UI isn’t very customizable, but allows placing most menu items on one side after you configure which side the driver sits on. However, a few critical buttons and controls are scattered across the UI, and aren’t easy to locate in a hurry. Google is readying a fix for this with a new sidebar for Maps on Android Auto.

Current arrangement of Google Maps controls on Android Auto

When you open Google Maps on Android Auto, the current UI places buttons for map zoom, compass, and voice navigation settings in a vertical stack, aligned to the lower left corner of the UI. However, the Settings button lives in the lower right corner. Once you set a destination and start navigating to it, it merges the settings gear icon with the card showing you the ETA and distance to the destination. These inconsistencies can be really problematic if you aren’t expecting them. If you don’t interact with the UI for long enough, these buttons disappear, further adding to the confusion.


New arrangement of buttons spotted in development

A new UI for Maps on Android Auto, first spotted by a SmartDroid reader, shows Google testing out a new left-aligned sidebar with all the buttons we mentioned above arranged in a neat vertical stack. The Settings button joins the others on the left, and is now top-aligned, while the map zoom buttons remain bottom-aligned. Moreover, the buttons for zoom control share a single pill-shaped housing with a horizontal separator, instead of a distinctly rectangular housing with rounded corners.

The new interface groups these important controls together logically, and modernizes the zoom buttons. Although we cannot confirm if the sidebar disappears when no

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