Android Auto Might Be Getting a Much-Needed Makeover

Android Auto Might Be Getting a Much-Needed Makeover
Photo: Florence Ion/Gizmodo

Android Auto has been rumoured to be getting a huge overhaul for months, but now we know what Google’s in-car navigation system will look like.

First spotted back in September, the new version of Android Auto is codenamed “Coolwalk” and can be accessed right now with a bit of tinkering and patience. AndroidWorld, an Italian Android site, recently tore down the Android Auto APK version 7.3 to look into some of the new features coming down the pipeline (via XDA Developers).

Coolwalk could be one of the most significant design overhauls for Android Auto since 2019, when Google added the bottom dock that’s in use now. The upcoming upgrade adds a hamburger-style menu for things like weather and shuffling through music. It’s much less distracting than the current interface, where an app can take over the whole screen, requiring you to reach over and press the back button to get back to navigation. The point of this new interface is to keep your eye on maps as you’re driving. The top status bar is also consolidated into the bottom dock, allowing more room on the main screen.

Curiously, there’s a “Cast” app that appeared in the APK teardown with the name “MirroringApp.” It does what it advertises: mirrors your smartphone to the vehicle’s embedded screen. A Reddit user was able to verify this feature’s existence on a rooted device and included another screenshot of the new Android Auto.

Android Auto Might Be Getting a Much-Needed Makeover

The teardown also revealed Google is working on adding an easy reply option for incoming calls that you can’t answer. A third button will decline the call and send a text message with a quick reply. It sounds similar to a feature that exists when receiving text messages through Android Auto, wherein it’ll offer a prompt to send a reply with a, “Sorry, I’m driving!” note.

These features aren’t public-facing in the current iteration of Android Auto, nor have they been confirmed by Google. But they do indicate that Google’s been working out the kinks in its car software — hence last year’s phase-out of the phone-only version of Android Auto, which I’m still mourning. (I still haven’t found a replacement.) Google has also added more features to Android Auto in the past year, like in-car games and wireless payments at the gas station.

For all the improvements Google’s made, Android Auto still leaves some things to be desired. Whatever this big upgrade actually entails, here’s to hoping the result is streamlined software that I don’t have to take a few minutes to set up every time I drive.