Android Auto update arrives, but the big change we’re waiting for is still missing

'Coolwalk' interface upgrade was supposed to arrive in the summer

Android Auto 8.0
(Image credit: Google)

A glance out of the window will tell you that summer is well and truly behind us, and yet a major overhaul of Android Auto, pledged to arrive before the autumn, is still missing.

We’ve been writing about the new interface, which is codenamed ‘Coolkwalk’, since it was first revealed by Google back in May. At the time, the company said the update would roll out before the end of the summer, and while there have been several updates to Android Auto since then, Coolwalk is still missing.

The update can be installed, but only if you’re willing to root your Android phone and install a beta intended for use by developers. Doing so can also cause issues with apps on your phone, and prevent some from running entirely, so it’s not something we recommend.

Coolkwalk was expected to arrive with version 8.0 of Google’s smartphone-powered infotainment system, but now we’re up to version 8.5 and there’s still no sign of it. Available in beta form, version 8.5 doesn’t bring much in the way of upgrades, and in fact has no new features at all. Instead, it’s just another round of bug fixes and performance improvements, according to both and Autoevolution.

We know that Google is still working on the big Coolwalk upgrade, with tweaks happening behind the scenes to make sure Android Auto and its apps work correctly when the new interface finally arrives. But, with mince pies already on supermarket shelves and Michale Bublé being defrosted as we speak, we’re left wondering if Coolwalk will even arrive before the end of 2022.

Once it finally lands – and it could be enabled by Google with the flick of a switch at any moment – Coolwalk will change how Android Auto looks. The interface will show multiple windows at once, so you can see a map with navigation instructions plus music controls and notifications about incoming messages all at once, instead of flicking between applications. The UI will also adjust based on the size and aspect ratio of the car’s dashboard display.

For now, we're still waiting to see if Google's answer to Apple's CarPlay, which is also due a major upgrade soon, will be worth the wait.

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.