Android Auto 8.0 arrives without the update we actually needed

Split-screen is now two months late and counting

We’ve been waiting for Google’s planned Android Auto redesign to hit cars everywhere for nearly an entire year. After a premature leak unveiled a split-screen UI last fall, we’ve watched as a work-in-progress project turned into an official announcement at I/O this spring. And yet, as Labor Day weekend rapidly approaches — a marker for the end of summer and, more importantly, the end of the summer travel season — it’s nowhere to be seen. Now, a new update to Android Auto is rolling out, and despite what you might expect, it’s bound to bring disappointment to drivers everywhere.

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On paper, Android Auto 8.0 sounds like the perfect opportunity to ship this year’s promised redesign — codenamed “Coolwalk.” It’s a round number, after all. Like it or not, we’ve all been accustomed to expecting bigger changes when the version jumps up to a round number — it’s why we expect so much more from Android 13 over Android 12.1. So while Google is simply following up Android Auto v7.9 with the next number in line, it’s easy to see why some users would expect consequential changes from this release.

Unfortunately, that doesn’t seem to be the case. As spotted by the folks at 9to5Google, Android Auto 8.0 is rolling out to drivers everywhere right now, without any sign of “Coolwalk” or other design changes. Instead, it seems likely this version is yet another round of bug fixes following a particularly unstable year for the platform. After testing it out on my own, I couldn’t spot any changes or additional features. Presumably, this update is all behind-the-scenes changes, or — if we’re lucky — groundwork for additional tweaks in the future.


When Google announced its redesigned UI in May, the company claimed it would arrive in cars before the start of summer, presumably timed to everyone rushing off on road trips. Although “Coolwalk” is still MIA, it’s entirely possible it rolls out to drivers through a server-side update, enabled by Google once it’s finally ready. At least right now, though, this latest upgrade simply isn’t the one we’ve been waiting for all summer long.

It’s another chapter in the ever-messy saga that is Android in cars. In addition to delayed updates and blank displays, Google finally killed Android Auto on phone screens for good. It left drivers to rely solely on Assistant Driving Mode, an inferior service in nearly every way and one that continues to miss out on some much-needed features. As Apple continues to develop its next-gen CarPlay platform, Google absolutely needs to step up its game in this competition. After all, iOS has supported split-screen in cars for nearly three years.


https://www.androidpolice.com/android-auto-8-0-arrives-no-coolwalk-redesign/