Google is busy working on a major update to its Android Auto car infotainment system.
Comprising what could well be the largest visual overhaul we’ve seen since Android Auto arrived back in 2015, the new version is available as a beta right now.
Revealed in May and codenamed Coolwalk, the update adds a layered card interface to Android Auto, where applications take up different amounts of screen space depending on their importance. For example, Google Maps or Waze can be assigned to the largest window, while weather widgets and music playback controls are given less priority.
It’s a big change for the smartphone-powered infotainment system, and one that promises to make the interface more useful no matter the size of your car’s dashboard display. By showing more than one app at a time, the update aims to reduce the amount of screen taps required to use Android Auto’s basic features.
Being able to see navigation information and music playback controls at the same time is welcome, and so too are incoming call notifications that now appear without taking up the entire display.
Before we go any further, the usual beta caveats apply. Unfinished beta software is, by its very nature, a little rough around the edges. It is still being worked on by Google and is only intended for use by developers wishing to get to grips with the software before it rolls out to the general public.
That said, it is now possible to download the Android Auto 7.9 beta and install it onto your Android phone. The software is available at Softpedia, and tapping on the APK file should be enough to start the downloading and installation process. You will likely have to give permission for your phone to install an app that hasn’t come from the Google Play store, and readers should make sure they are downloading the right version for their handset.
Downloading and installing the Android Auto beta should only take a few seconds, and once newer versions are available in the coming weeks they can be installed in the same way; each new build will replace what’s currently on your phone.
One last thing to note is how the 7.9 update removes the option to run Android Auto on a smartphone display. From now on, those who previously used it on their phone (instead of on the car’s own display) will have to run Google Assistant Driving mode on their handset instead.