Google Announces New Android Auto Apps, You Can Already Download Them

It happens a little bit later than originally expected, but Google has just announced two big apps for Android Auto.
New Android Auto app 16 photos
Photo: Bogdan Popa/autoevolution/Google
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Originally teased at I/O earlier this year, WebEx by Cisco and Zoom are now rolling out to Android Auto, with the latest versions published on the Google Play Store enabling the new in-car experience.

Google promised at its spring developer event to launch the new apps "later this year," but the company never promised more specifics on the release date. Most users believed the new apps would hit the Play Store in the summer, but the parent company needed more time to prepare their apps for Android Auto.

Last week, Google published a teaser on its website, suggesting that the release of WebEx and Zoom on Android Auto wasn't very far. As I exclusively reported at that point, Cisco planned to release WebEx as a beta build, as the stable version of its app wasn't ready for Android Auto.

Cisco now confirms that Android Auto functionality in WebEx is currently available only in beta, but the full rollout is expected in the coming weeks. Meanwhile, Zoom’s update is available for everyone as a stable update.

Zoom and Cisco land on Android Auto with audio-only conference calls, so users have to pick up their phones for video support. The limitation makes sense for the in-car experience, as Google can't allow video on the infotainment screen for safety reasons. The same restrictions block access to YouTube and Netflix, as video content on Android Auto would increase the driver's distraction when the vehicle is in motion.

Oddly, Google says the debut of WebEx and Zoom "introduces a new whole category of apps," but Microsoft Teams already offers similar functionality on Android Auto. Microsoft's software allows users to join meetings and make audio calls from the infotainment screen without touching their mobile devices.

It's unclear if WebEx and Zoom support the Coolwalk interface, though I expect them to come with the full set of features. Audio calls can use a dedicated card on the Coolwalk UI, displaying information alongside the navigation app.

The two apps are available from the Google Play Store right now, though the full availability should be reached in a few hours as the rollout is underway. You don't need anything special to run the apps on Android Auto. You must first configure your accounts on the Android smartphone, with all information, including meetings and scheduled calls, showing on the infotainment screen when the device is connected to the head unit.

Google says more app announcements will follow shortly, but as always, the company has remained tight-lipped on further specifics in this regard. Cisco promises to push WebEx out of beta in the coming weeks.
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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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