Google has pushed the adoption of Android into vehicles for a few years now. Their efforts revolve around “Android Auto” and “Android Automotive.” Android Automotive is an entirely independent Android-based OS that runs on dedicated hardware in the vehicle that’s capable of controlling the HVAC and other in-vehicle systems whereas Android Auto is an extension of your Android smartphone that runs on compatible head units. Auto projects your phone’s display onto the head unit via a wired or wireless connection. For those of you who don’t own an Android Auto-capable head unit, the Android app can also be run on the phone itself though of course, you’ll have to deal with mounting your phone somewhere where it can be visible and have to deal with the smaller display.
The Android Auto app has a few built-in functions to help keep your eyes on the road while also making your smartphone useful in the car. It has a few built-in integrations like Google Maps, the dialer app, and Google Play Music. There’s also a Notification Listener service to help you keep up to date with important notifications. In those rare instances where you really need to use an app that isn’t supported by the Auto app, you’ll have to exit the service and then go to that app. For this situation, it seems that Google is testing a new “minimize app” button that lets you quickly go back to your regular home screen to do some action but, once you’re finished, quickly re-enter Android Auto.
This feature was first discovered by XDA Recognized Developer Quinny899 and confirmed by XDA. The feature works on the latest version of the Android Auto app, version 3.3.582064-release, that can be downloaded from the Google Play Store. We’re not sure when it’ll roll out, though, as Google tests new Android Auto features for a long time before rolling them out. (The cautiousness is welcome, though, since the app is used while in the vehicle so safety must be taken into consideration.)