This new Android Auto update is huge for podcast and audiobook lovers

It’s now possible to scrub through audio with a swipe

Android Auto Coolwalk update
(Image credit: Google)

Not only has Google’s highly-anticipated (and somewhat delayed) Android Auto upgrade finally arrived, but it has also opened the door for some much-needed changes.

The first, which is now rolling out to beta users, is the ability to scrub through audio files like podcasts and music tracks. This makes it easy to skip forwards or backwards through a track with a swipe of the dashboard display – handy for quickly finding your place in a podcast or audiobook.

Known as the seek bar, this simple interface upgrade is available across all audio apps that work on Android Auto. This means it works on music streaming services like Spotify, as well as podcast players and audiobook apps – basically, anything that plays audio now has the seek bar to easily scrub through the timeline of whatever you’re listening to.

Crucially, this is something that Apple’s CarPlay does not offer. Instead, iPhone users have to tap repeatedly at the fast-forward icon to find their place. We definitely think Google has the upper hand here, and hope Apple’s all-new CarPlay, due in late-2023, will gain a seek bar of its own.

But before you all rush out to try the new feature, we must warn readers that the seek bar is rolling out slowly. Some users of the Android Auto beta have access to it, and have posted photos on Reddit. But given the painfully slow roll-out of the recent UI overhaul, known as Coolkwalk, it could be some time before the seek bar graduates out of the beta development stage and is made available to everyone.

If you’re still waiting for Coolwalk, then we're afraid you’ll just have to be patient. This isn’t an update you can download yourself, or force your phone to install. Instead it’s a case of Google flicking the switch on its server; when this happens for you, your car dashboard will show the new Android Auto interface the next time you use it.

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.