The Android Auto Update Google Forgot It Promised

Nearly three years ago, Google said on an Android Auto support page that its app would be provided with full support for touchpad input.

At that time, the company acknowledged that not all apps supported car touchpads, promising to improve Android Auto in this regard.

Touchpads aren’t necessarily very common in the automotive industry. They are used by only a handful of carmakers, such as Acura and Mercedes. Despite the low adoption, Google wanted to refine this input method.

Users who want to interact with Android Auto can do it either with voice commands or directly via touch input. The most common method is touch, especially as the majority of Android Auto head units support it.

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The recommended option, on the other hand, is voice command integration. This way, drivers wouldn’t have to look at the screen, and the hands-free experience would generate less distraction behind the wheel.

The touchpad input can be used particularly in cars where touch support isn’t available. It makes sense mostly when the vehicle is parked, especially as drivers need to keep an eye on the screen to browse Android Auto.

Nearly three years after Google confirmed the touchpad support coming to all apps, the feature is still nowhere to be seen. The announcement is still there on the Android Auto support page, and Google hasn’t shared any other information on the progress it might have made on this update.

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In the meantime, all of Google’s efforts are directed at Coolwalk. Announced in January, Coolwalk allows users to run more than one app on the screen at the same time. Previously, this functionality was exclusive to wide displays.

Coolwalk uses a layout similar to the CarPlay Dashboard, and apps are running in dedicated cards. Google is presumably focused on ensuring proper app support in Coolwalk right now, so other improvements might not be a priority in the short term.

The rollout of Coolwalk is happening in stages. The redesign isn’t part of a specific app update because Google wants to make sure everything is running as expected. The server-controlled release gives the company more time to analyze the reliability data collected from devices. If any major bug is discovered, it can suspend the rollout for specific hardware until a fix is developed.

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The search giant did not share an ETA as to when it wants to bring Coolwalk to all users, but this is expected to happen over the course of this year. Right now, the fastest way to get Coolwalk seems to be enrolling in the Android Auto beta program where testers already got access to the new UI.

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