Recent Android Auto Update Causes a New Dark Mode Struggle

When running on factory-installed head units and even on some aftermarket models, Android Auto should technically determine the current status of the headlights and adjust its interface accordingly.
Android Auto switches to dark mode when the headlights are turned on 1 photo
Photo: Google
So, for example, if it’s night outside and you turn on the lights, Android Auto should automatically activate the dark mode. Driving with the headlights off means Android Auto stays with the standard light theme.

On the other hand, on some aftermarket head units where receiving headlight information isn’t possible, users just relied on a quick switch on their phones to enable the dark mode. That is because the Android Auto UI also aligns with the theme activated on the mobile device, so if your smartphone uses dark mode, Android Auto should do the same thing too.

This behavior appears to have changed recently, as Android Auto now ignores the phone settings and seems to be independent of the mobile device. That should actually give users more control over the UI of the app, but on the other hand, a manual mode switch in Android Auto does not exist just yet and the toggle in the developer settings to force-enable the dark theme no longer works either.

As a result, users are just stuck with the default light mode, which, as many discovered the hard way, is quite a pain in the neck to use during the night.

A discussion thread on Google’s forums indicates the problem appeared in October and still persists today, and unfortunately, the Mountain View-based search giant is yet to provide any workaround. In fact, the issue hasn’t been acknowledged just yet, and for the time being, users are all alone in their attempt to find a workaround.

And this is another problem, as nothing seems to restore the original behavior on Android Auto. However, if you’re sure a recent update introduced the whole thing, the easiest way to deal with it is to downgrade to a previous version. You can find all APK installers for older Android Auto releases on this page.
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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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