Google Releases Android Auto 9.1, Everyone Can Download It Right Now

A new version of Android Auto is now available 15 photos
Photo: Bogdan Popa/autoevolution
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Google has released a new version of Android Auto, and the rollout is now underway through the Google Play Store.
The company uses a phased rollout, so not all users receive it today. However, those who don’t want to wait can install Android Auto 9.1 using the APK installer.

This means users must sideload the new Android Auto version of their devices by manually downloading the installer for the new update.

What’s new in Android Auto 9.1?

Google doesn’t typically release changelogs when it ships new Android Auto versions. This is because the company is focusing mostly on fixes and under-the-hood optimizations.

Version 9.1 makes no exception. The new update seems to be centered around additional polishing, especially as Google has a lot to improve in the new design.

Announced in January and now rolling out to users in stages, Coolwalk allows users to run multiple apps on the same screen. Apps are now provided with cards in a layout that is very similar to the CarPlay Dashboard.

At this point, it’s too early to tell if Android Auto 9.1 bring any significant changes to the Coolwalk experience. More such information is expected to surface as the rollout makes progress.

Android Auto Coolwalk
Photo: Bogdan Popa/autoevolution

Why the update is released in stages

Android Auto 9.1 is now rolling out to users, but not everybody is getting the update on day one. The Mountain View-based search giant uses a phased rollout for new Android Auto versions.

The update is initially released to just a small set of users through the Google Play Store. Google analyzes early reliability data, and based on the results, it then pushes the update to more devices. The same approach is used until a software update reaches the broad availability stage.

Using this method, Google can reduce the likelihood of major Android Auto problems hitting a significant number of devices.

Android Auto updates are known for causing all kinds of bugs, so a phased rollout should theoretically ensure increased reliability when new versions are available.

Android Auto Coolwalk
Photo: Bogdan Popa/autoevolution

How to download Android Auto 9.1 right now

The phased rollout approach comes with one big shortcoming: users don't know when they receive the update. As such, many are looking for ways to download new versions without waiting.

The option on this front is the sideloading of the latest update on the device using the dedicated APK installer. The method involves downloading the APK file on the Android device where Android Auto is running. Then, the installation must be manually started, and once all permissions are granted, the update should complete automatically.

The first step involves downloading the APK installer. You can find the Android Auto 9.1 APK file on this page, so save the installer on your device. When the process is complete, head over to its location using the local file manager and tap the installer.

The process works similarly to the installation of an application on a Windows computer. Once you launch the installer, it deploys all the necessary files on the device. You don’t have to remove the existing version of Android Auto, as files are replaced automatically.

By default, Android is configured to only allow the installation of apps from the Google Play Store. As such, you may be requested to provide permissions for installing apps from third-party sources.

Android Auto Coolwalk
Photo: Bogdan Popa/autoevolution

Android Auto 9.1 does not enable Coolwalk

The main reason many users are eager to install new Android Auto versions is because of Coolwalk. The big redesign that was announced in January is still rolling out, and some users hope that by installing the latest update, they could get the new interface as well.

This isn’t the case. Google uses a server-controlled rollout for Coolwalk, so the design isn’t in any way tied to a new Android Auto version.

As such, Android Auto 9.1 doesn’t enable Coolwalk on your device if Google hasn’t already activated the interface. Coolwalk will become available when Google decides your hardware configuration is ready, so you can’t do anything to rush the process.

Android Auto Coolwalk
Photo: Bogdan Popa/autoevolution
If the new interface shows up after installing Android Auto 9.1, this is just a coincidence. Most likely, Coolwalk would have been enabled without updating to the latest version anyway.

The Mountain View-based search giant did not share an ETA regarding broad availability timing. The rollout is indeed projected to complete this year, so all users are expected to receive the new Android Auto design in the upcoming months.

Most likely, the company will continue to focus on polishing the Coolwalk experience with Android Auto updates, so the upcoming releases won’t include too many exciting changes. One of the most anticipated improvements concerns the weather card that should be displayed on the Coolwalk screen. With the release of the new design, the weather information was removed from the status bar, but its dedicated card isn’t yet available on portrait screens. Google is currently working on bringing it back to all users.
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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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