Google Releases Android Auto Update With Good Coolwalk News

Google further polishes the experience with Coolwalk in Android Auto 8.9 8 photos
Photo: Bogdan Popa/autoevolution
Android Auto Coolwalk interfaceAndroid Auto Coolwalk interfaceAndroid Auto Coolwalk interfaceAndroid Auto Coolwalk interfaceAndroid Auto Coolwalk interfaceAndroid Auto weather cardContextual card displayed in the top left corner
Google kicked off the rollout of Android Auto 8.9, only a few days after the same build made its way to testers enrolled in the beta program.
Android Auto 8.9 comes without a changelog, but long-time users should already be familiar with this approach. Google rarely publishes release notes for its updates, claiming the work was entirely aimed at squashing bugs and under-the-hood optimizations. Nevertheless, I’ve got pretty good news for those who have already received the Coolwalk redesign.

Before anything else, it's time for the obligatory Coolwalk warning.

Android Auto 8.9 does not enable the redesign on devices where the new interface is not live yet, and it does not produce any improvement in the availability of the new interface either. This happens because the release of Coolwalk isn’t tied to Android Auto updates, as Google employs a server-controlled approach to bring the redesign to users out there.

Installing Android Auto 8.9 will therefore not bring Coolwalk to users who haven’t already received the new interface. But on the other hand, it will introduce additional polishing for those who have.

As I told you only a few days ago, Android Auto 8.9 introduces additional polishing for app switching animations, though the new settings don’t seem to be enabled by default. Most likely, Google needs to further improve these new visual effects before rolling them out to everyone, but chances are we’re going to see them going live in the coming weeks.

Otherwise, Android Auto 8.9 is just as mysterious as all its predecessors. Google doesn’t typically share changelogs for new Android Auto releases, so users will have to install the update and then figure out on their own if there’s anything big in there.

In the meantime, the rollout of Coolwalk is also making good progress. Sure enough, the global availability phase hasn’t been reached just yet, but I’m seeing more people receiving the new design in their cars. This could be a sign that Google is accelerating the release of the new experience, though for now, there’s no ETA as to when the process is supposed to come to an end.

The biggest benefit of activating Coolwalk on Android Auto is that users can now run multiple apps side by side regardless of the screen size. Coolwalk uses an approach that is similar to the CarPlay dashboard, with apps running on the screen being provided with their own dedicated cards. The navigation app, be it Google Maps or Waze, receives the largest card, with the rest of the screen estate used by audio software and phone calls. Portrait displays also sport a weather card, but chances are Google is already working on bringing this feature to head units with a landscape aspect ratio.

The rollout of Android Auto 8.9 is also taking place in stages through the Google Play Store, but you can install it without waiting by sideloading the APK file.
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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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