for Android Auto Fans, the road to Coolwalk has been a long one. Google’s new car-friendly dashboard first leaked nearly a year ago Officially debuting at I/O in May. At the time, Coolwalk – the codename for the Auto redesign – was supposed to arrive before the start of summer, just in time for a few months filled with vacations and cross-country trips. Instead, Google has remained silent about when this new look will hit cars. Today, we’re one step closer to a full launch, as the Android Auto redesign is ready for beta testing.
The past six months have not been in vain. According to the company, it has worked hard to implement feedback from drivers lucky enough to test Coolwalk before launch. We’ve even seen some of these changes seep into the public, as a lot of dedicated people got the updated Google user interface up and running on different devices. Looking at the version shown in the UI that hasn’t actually been launched, many of these tweaks are hard to notice, but once you have the hardware in your car, the delayed testing period should make a big difference.
Left: Redesigned Android Auto user interface, as seen at I/O. Right: Updated Android Auto beta today.
When comparing the offerings, some of the tweaks are pretty obvious. There is this new The app switch dock we saw in September, making switching between navigation and media easy. It wasn’t there in May, but it’s a much-appreciated design decision that should have a huge impact on driving safety. The same goes for the map location – it’s on the driver’s side of the screen now, making it easy to see at a glance as you, you know, speed the highway in a ton of steel, glass, and rubber.
These aren’t the only changes, of course. The media card in the dashboard view is much more colorful than the faded original and is now capable of dynamic scaling – Another change recently leaked. One of the most exciting changes allows drivers to fill more of the screen with the map, making it ideal for cars with unconventional aspect ratios. Google has also included some smaller changes as well, including additional support for Material You, faster access to Assistant recommendations for your favorite songs, playlists, and podcasts, and an improved notification area with status icons and unread messages.
Many of these changes will sound familiar to anyone who has tried Apple’s CarPlay app. From the dashboard to the app switcher, some of the concepts presented here are nothing new in the world of car-friendly mobile user interfaces. Still, great to see Android Auto accompanies CarPlay In some key spaces. Google has already been ahead of Apple in many ways, and today’s update helps fill the gap in many of our key grip points.
I’ve previously chased Google for not delivering this update to drivers throughout the summer months, but based on these changes, the wait was worth it. Looking at the original rendering from I/O, there is clearly a lot of work to be done before this UI is ready to go. Again, some of this is obvious – the navigation should always be on the driver side of the screen – but it’s great to see that Google took the time to do it right.
Fortunately, anyone can try out the Android Auto redesign starting today. Google is distributing it through the Play Store beta program, so anyone who’s signed up should already have an update pending in the next few hours. Anyone else can sign up for the beta program – although the Play Store currently offers it full, at least on my end. If you can’t join through official means, the beta APK should be available on APKMirror during the day. We will update this article with a direct download link as soon as it’s published, but for now, stay tuned List of APK files for Android Auto.
Update: 11/11/2022 15:56 EST BY WILL SATTELBERG
Today’s beta appears to be already one of Google’s classic server-side switches, which means you’ll need to wait for the in-app UI to activate. For now, download the latest beta APK from APK Mirror using the link above, then try to restart your phone. Other users in our comments saw luck by clearing the cache a few times. However, it appears that most people running the beta now are in the appropriate program through Google Play, so non-testers may need to wait for more slots to open.
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