Google Misses the Android Auto Coolwalk Release Date

Android Auto Coolwalk interface 6 photos
Photo: Google
The new Android Auto UIThe new Android Auto UIThe new Android Auto UIThe new Android Auto UIThe new Android Auto UI
Back in May at the company’s very own I/O event, Google announced the Coolwalk overhaul for Android Auto. It was the biggest interface update in a long time, and in many ways, it was the modern overhaul that users out there have been waiting for.
With an interface based on cards, similar to the dashboard available on CarPlay, Coolwalk allows users to run multiple apps side by side, including navigation, media, and communication.

The same capabilities are offered regardless of the screen size, so whereas the split-screen functionality was previously limited to displays with a wide resolution, Coolwalk would support all head units running Android Auto.

Google promised Coolwalk would go live in the summer, as per this quote in the official announcement (emphasis is ours):

This summer, Android Auto will roll out a brand new interface that will help you get directions faster, control your media more easily and have more functionality at your fingertips.

In theory, users expected Coolwalk to start rolling out by the end of August, but obviously, this didn’t happen. Then, everybody hoped Google was actually referring to the summer season, which ended on Friday, September 23. Nevertheless, Coolwalk is yet to see daylight, so Google has officially missed the release date for one of the most anticipated Android Auto updates.

The new Android Auto UI
Photo: Google
The original announcement still points to the summer as the ETA for Android Auto Coolwalk, and Google is yet to come up with more information on when it plans to start the rollout of this feature.

Worth knowing, however, is that Coolwalk isn’t tied to a specific Android Auto update. Like many other Android Auto features, Coolwalk can show up overnight, as Google can enable it using a server-side switch. This is because the code to run Coolwalk is already there in Android Auto, so all it takes is for Google to start activating the UI update for users.

At this point, however, Coolwalk still appears to be a work in progress, but I’m being told the last-minute touches are being implemented into the app as we speak. This means we shouldn’t be far from the moment when Coolwalk goes live for the first users.

If you can’t wait anymore and want Coolwalk right here and now, the easiest way to try it out is with a rooted Android phone. As said, the code to enable it is already there in Android Auto, and while the work continues, the existing version still seems to be very polished. So with a rooted phone, you can manually enable Coolwalk on your device, though it goes without saying you could still come across bugs given it’s unfinished work.

The new Android Auto UI
Photo: Google
One of the most recent updates received by Coolwalk concerns media apps, as Spotify has received a new UI refresh for the dedicated card in the new UI. Spotify can therefore display media art right in the card, making everything, including the card-based interface, look more modern. There’s a chance the same update would go live for all media apps running on Android Auto, as Google typically updates the template for certain app categories and then allows developers to implement the features in their software.

The only thing that’s impossible to predict right now is when Coolwalk is projected to start rolling out to users out there. Google has obviously missed the release target, but with Coolwalk currently 99 percent ready, the beginning of the rollout probably isn’t very far.

The more frustrating part is that the Mountain View-based search giant itself has remained completely tight-lipped on everything Coolwalk since the May announcement. So the best thing the company can do right now is to provide the community with an update on the Android Auto work and the new ETA it has in mind.

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About the author: Bogdan Popa
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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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