Google Releases Android Auto 10.5: What You Need to Know Before Downloading the Update

Google has just released a new Android Auto update, allowing users to try out the next version before the production launch starts.
New Android Auto beta build now available for download 15 photos
Photo: Bogdan Popa/autoevolution/Google
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Unsurprisingly, many people rush to download new Android Auto versions, hoping the updates bring substantial improvements and new features.

The disappointment is typically quite big, especially because Google doesn't use these updates to ship new features. The focus is typically on fixing bugs and improving the overall performance, with some new builds also witnessing the gradual rollout of experiments enabled only for a small set of users.

Android Auto 10.5 is now live, and here's what you need to know before downloading the new version.

Only available in the beta stage

Android Auto Coolwalk
Photo: Bogdan Popa/autoevolution
Android Auto 10.5 is currently in the beta stage, so its purpose is to allow users to test the release before Google begins the rollout to production devices.

The Android Auto beta program expanded last year, and since then, Google significantly accelerated the release pace in both the testing and stable channels. The concept is very simple.

With the beta program, Google allows power users to test new Android Auto builds before everybody else. These users are supposed to provide feedback and submit bug reports, giving Google more information on what to fix before the release to everybody else begins. Eventually, Google will ship more stable Android Auto updates with a lower likelihood of bugs.

Everybody wins from this effort. Google receives additional feedback, while users get the chance to participate in the Android Auto development phase and try out new features and improvements early.

Manual downloads are available for everybody

Android Auto Coolwalk
Photo: Bogdan Popa/autoevolution
Google ships a pre-release Android Auto version as part of its beta program. You must be a registered tester to receive these builds.

On the other hand, Android Auto users can download these updates by sideloading the new build. Sideloading refers to manually installing an Android application on a mobile device using the stand-alone APK installer.

The process involves downloading the APK file and manually launching the installation. Users must grant the necessary permissions, allowing Android to install applications from third-party sources. By default, the operating system only allows applications published on the Google Play Store.

No changelog, but don't expect anything big

Android Auto Coolwalk
Photo: Bogdan Popa/autoevolution
Android Auto 10.5 beta comes without a changelog, but if you've been part of the testing program for more than an update, you probably already know this isn't a surprise.

Google uses a very frustrating approach that involves sharing changelogs only when major new Android Auto features are available. In this case, the company doesn't just offer a changelog but publishes a blog post to detail the improvements.

Android Auto 10.5 beta doesn't seem to include major changes. I installed the beta on my smartphone but couldn’t notice any new features. Google's focus has most likely been on polishing the app performance, and if new features are available, the company will probably enable it in stages.

You can use the comment box after the jump to let us know if you noticed something new in this Android Auto beta build.

Don't download this build if…

Android Auto Coolwalk
Photo: Bogdan Popa/autoevolution
Most people rush to download new Android Auto builds without caring if they're part of the beta program or shared in the stable channel.

However, you shouldn't download this Android Auto 10.5 update if you don't know the purpose of a beta release. Google ships these builds to collect update feedback and test a new version's reliability. It expects users to share this feedback, so if you're unfamiliar with the process, you should wait for the stable release.

Android Auto beta builds come with an increased likelihood of bugs. Because they're pre-release versions of Android Auto, they are unrefined and unpolished – that's actually your role in the whole release process; you must contribute with reliability data, helping Google prepare an update for prime-time. If you notice anything unusual, including bugs and other performance problems, you must report them to Google, giving the company extra time to address everything before a build makes its way to stable users.

Bugs are common in beta builds, though any long-time Android Auto users will tell you the same applies to stable releases, too. Android Auto suffers from major reliability problems, and bugs breaking down various features, including voice commands, are nothing unusual.

Eventually, you shouldn't download Android Auto 10.5 beta if you use the app as your daily driver. Android Auto could stop working on your device if something goes wrong and you encounter a critical bug. You must be familiar with the sideloading of another Android Auto build, therefore being able to return to the previous version that worked correctly on your device.

If everything runs correctly, Google should start the Android Auto 10.5 rollout in the stable channel in approximately one week. At that point, the new version should already be considered stable enough to leave the beta phase.
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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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