Android Auto update adds first signs of Apple CarPlay redesign

Interface tweak is only a part of what to expect from major ‘Coolwalk’ update

Android Auto
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

Google has rolled out an interface update to its Android Auto car infotainment system. But, while the new notification window design is a welcome upgrade, it is only a tiny part of what Google said would arrive this summer.

The company said at its I/O developer conference back in May that a major visual overhaul of Android Auto was on the way, and would land before the end of the summer. This brings a split-screen look to the system, letting drivers view a map, music and other information all at once.

Crucially, these apps can all be interacted with at the same time too, so drivers should have access to maps, music and more with a tap, instead of first switching to the app they want to interact with. It may show more information at once, but we think the lack of switching between apps will be less distracting.

But, while the Coolwalk can now be installed as an unfinished beta, the final version isn’t yet available for all Android users to download and enjoy. Instead, Google looks to be gradually releasing some of the changes featured in Coolwalk.

This time it’s an update to the notifications boxes, as spotted by Reddit users, which are now rectangular with rounded corners, just as they were in the Coolwalk demo shown earlier in the year.

With us now into the second week of August, Google is running out of time to meet its self-imposed summer deadline for the major Android Auto update. As well as a split-screen layout showing more information at once, the update removes the status bar from the top of the screen, and changes the look of the dynamic bar at the bottom.

With the last overhaul of Android Auto now three years ago, and Google not showing anything of Coolwalk for three months, we’re hoping the update arrives soon, and the company manages to meet its own late-summer deadline.

Alistair Charlton

Alistair is a freelance automotive and technology journalist. He has bylines on esteemed sites such as the BBC, Forbes, TechRadar, and of best of all, T3, where he covers topics ranging from classic cars and men's lifestyle, to smart home technology, phones, electric cars, autonomy, Swiss watches, and much more besides. He is an experienced journalist, writing news, features, interviews and product reviews. If that didn't make him busy enough, he is also the co-host of the AutoChat podcast.