Android Auto finally ditches an annoying restriction when using Google Maps

Android Auto Coolwalk screen main home screen.
(Image credit: Ted Kritsonis / Android Central)

What you need to know

  • A number of Reddit users reported that they can now open Google Maps on their phones while Android Auto is active.
  • This functionality was briefly available to some users in February, but was later removed.
  • Its reappearance was noticed a few days ago by some, and it now shows up for a larger group of users, indicating that it is here to stay.

Google Maps can now display navigation on both your phone and head unit at the same time, suggesting that Android Auto's simultaneous-use feature has returned after a brief appearance earlier this year.

A number of users took to Reddit to report that they're now able to open the navigation app on their phones as Android Auto is being engaged simultaneously (via Android Police). This functionality went live for a limited set of users in February but was later removed after a few days.

The previous limitation meant that if you wish to see navigation details on the larger screen of your head unit, you won't be able to interact with Google Maps on your handset and do things like search for destinations. As a result, you would be limited to viewing only turn-by-turn navigation, ETA, distance remaining, and music controls when Android Auto is active.

Limitations like this are due to safety reasons, with Google presumably not wanting your attention to be distracted by your mobile device. However, using Maps on your head unit and handset at the same time is especially useful if you have a co-pilot who can provide more detailed directions using your Android Auto-connected phone.

This was a longtime frustration for many Android Auto users, though they were briefly given a treat in February only to see it disappear after a short period of time. Nonetheless, the feature's reappearance suggests that it's here to stay, as a wider range of users can now use Maps on their phone and head unit at the same time. Some people even noticed the change a few days ago.

Android Auto already provides a handy interface that makes Google's operating system easier to use while you're behind the wheel. But being able to access Maps' additional features on your phone provides a fully functional experience.

Jay Bonggolto
News Writer & Reviewer

Jay Bonggolto always keeps a nose for news. He has been writing about consumer tech and apps for as long as he can remember, and he has used a variety of Android phones since falling in love with Jelly Bean. Send him a direct message via Twitter or LinkedIn.