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At CES 2023, Google showed up as an automotive company

We saw the latest generation of Android Auto on display inside a BMW i7.

Cherlynn Low / Engadget

In recent years, Google has used CES as a platform to showcase its vision of "Better Together" — the idea that all devices should play nice with each other. Typically, that means it makes announcements around features like Fast Pair and expansion of Cast compatibility to more third-party products. At CES 2023, the company shared that it's working with Spotify to integrate the Connect streaming tool into the Android UI. It also teased a preview of an audio handoff feature that would suggest different devices to move your music onto depending on your habits and where you are.

But CES is a big car show, and Google also has products for automobiles. Today, it also told us that its higher-resolution maps will debut on the Polestar 3 and, for the first time since its announcement at I/O 2022, showed off the latest Android Auto interface to the public.

There were two vehicles at the Google booth at the Las Vegas Convention Center's trailer lot — a BMW i7 with the new Android Auto experience and a Volvo EX90 with Google built in. This was our first look at the Volvo itself, and we'll be putting up a separate hands-on about our experience with that in a bit. Our focus for this story (and video) is the new Android Auto.

Like we learned at I/O, the updated interface will adapt to bigger screen sizes and feature a split screen layout. Google's removed the status bar, placing indicator icons in a small square to the top left, and added a row of shortcut keys below that. When we were in the car, the left panel housed the Spotify app, and with a swipe from the right side, we pulled in a list of suggested playlists.

This left window also serves as a container for alerts that you don't have time to deal with during your drive. For example, if a notification comes in, you can swipe right on it to send it to the dock, and it'll wait there until you're ready to deal with it.

For more of our experience with the revamped Android Auto in the BMW i7, check out the video above! And make sure to stay tuned this week for a ton of news coming out of CES 2023.