Android Auto 9.9: How to Download, What's New, And Everything Else You Need to Know

The new update is live right now 15 photos
Photo: Bogdan Popa/autoevolution
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Google has recently started the Android Auto 9.9 rollout, and as per the company’s typical and very frustrating approach, a changelog is missing.
In other words, while new Android Auto updates are fairly intriguing, it's impossible to figure out what's new without first installing them. Version 9.9 makes no exception.

What's new in this update?

First and foremost, let's see what's changed since Android Auto 9.8 came out only a few weeks ago.

Android Auto 9.9 seemingly enables a new experience in Google Maps for some users. We've known for a while that Google wants to prepare its sat-nav solution for electric vehicles, and the release of Android Auto 9.9 enables features that have been in the works for several versions.

With this update, users can enable new EV settings in Android Auto, specifically to use them with Google Maps for navigation. A new electric vehicle section in settings allows users to define their car as an EV. This way, Google Maps can offer optimized routing, as well as additional information, such as the location of nearby charging stations.

Users can also configure their EV's charging port, so the suggested stops can always be compatible with their vehicle.

Android Auto Coolwalk
Photo: Bogdan Popa/autoevolution
As it turns out, Google is also paving the road for more advanced functionality in Android Auto, though it's currently unclear how they are supposed to work. There's evidence the search giant wants Android Auto to indicate the battery level on the screen, but given the app does not have direct access to the vehicle, the company might have to rely on other approaches for this feature.

One method could be the integration of EV companion apps into the Android Auto experience. Most EVs already come with mobile apps to access vehicle data, including the battery level and the estimated range, remotely, and with an Android Auto version, Google could be able to show this information on the dashboard screen as well. This feature is still in its early days, whereas the EV options in Google Maps have already been enabled for a limited set of users.

The availability is controlled with a server-side switch, so manually installing Android Auto 9.9 does not guarantee you'll get access to the new features. However, the new version is a prerequisite for devices where they'll eventually be activated.

How to download Android Auto 9.9

Android Auto 9.9 is now rolling out in phases through the Google Play Store. This means some users will have to wait a few more days or weeks to get the update, as Google wants to monitor the release reliability before shipping the new version to more devices.

Android Auto Coolwalk
Photo: Bogdan Popa/autoevolution
The most convenient alternative is a manual download. Android allows sideloading, which comes down to users downloading the stand-alone APK installer and updating apps manually. As a result, you can get the Android Auto 9.9 APK file and do the whole thing on your own without waiting for Google to ship the update through the Play Store.

The one thing you must be aware of is that Android is not configured to allow the installation of apps from third-party sources. You'll see a prompt during the update process, so make sure you give all permissions to the application when installing the new version.

What else?

Android Auto 9.9 isn't necessarily a massive release, but it looks like it's playing a critical role in a bigger update that's not too far away.

The new features have been in the works for quite some versions, and Android Auto 9.9 has started public testing with a small set of users. Based on the early feedback, Google can then decide if it can accelerate the rollout to include more devices.

At the same time, Android Auto 9.9 also brings us a step closer to the broad availability of Coolwalk. Announced in January, Coolwalk is one of the biggest Android Auto updates in history, allowing users to run multiple apps side by side on the same screen. If you believe you've heard this before, it's because you had, as a similar approach powers the CarPlay Dashboard experience.

Android Auto Coolwalk
Photo: Bogdan Popa/autoevolution
Apps use cards to display the Coolwalk interface, with the navigation solution receiving the biggest screen estate. The rest of the UI is divided into smaller cards for phone calls, audio apps, and weather information (currently available only on portrait screens). The Coolwalk rollout started in January with baby steps, and Google has since been enabling the new interface in stages for users across the world. However, the rollout seems to be close to completion, as the majority of devices have already been provided with the new experience.

As typically happens when a new Android Auto version comes out, Google has so far remained completely tight-lipped on version 9.9. However, given it includes new EV features, I'd expect the company to come up with a blog post announcing the new goodies sooner rather than later.
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About the author: Bogdan Popa
Bogdan Popa profile photo

Bogdan keeps an eye on how technology is taking over the car world. His long-term goals are buying an 18-wheeler because he needs more space for his kid’s toys, and convincing Google and Apple that Android Auto and CarPlay deserve at least as much attention as their phones.
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