Google releases Android Auto 9.1, anyone can download it now

The company is using a phased rollout, so not all users will receive it today. However, those who don’t want to wait can install Android Auto 9.1 using the APK installer.

This means that users will have to sideload the new Android Auto version from their devices by manually downloading the installer for the new update.

What’s new in Android Auto 9.1?

Google typically doesn’t post changelogs when it ships new Android Auto versions. This is because the company mainly focuses on fixes and optimizations under the hood.

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

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

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

Photo: Bogdan Popa/Car Evolution

Why the update is being released in stages

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

The update will initially be released to only a small group of users via 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 wide availability.

This method allows Google to reduce the likelihood of major Android Auto issues affecting a large number of devices.

Android Auto updates are known to cause all sorts of bugs, so a phased rollout should theoretically allow for greater reliability when new versions become available.

Android Auto Coolwalk

Photo: Bogdan Popa/Car Evolution

Download Android Auto 9.1 now

The phased rollout approach has one major flaw: users don’t know when they’ll receive the update. Therefore, many are looking for ways to download new versions without waiting.

The option on this front is to sideload the latest update onto the device using the dedicated APK installer. The method involves downloading the APK file on the Android device running Android Auto. Then the installation must be started manually and once all permissions have been granted, the update should be completed automatically.

The first step is to download the APK installer. You will find the Android Auto 9.1 APK file on this page, so save the installer to your device. When the process is complete, navigate to the location using the local file manager and tap on the installer.

The process works similarly to installing an application on a Windows computer. After you launch the installer, all necessary files will be deployed to the device. You don’t need to uninstall the existing version of Android Auto as files will be replaced automatically.

By default, Android is configured to only allow the installation of apps from the Google Play Store. As such, you may be asked to allow apps to be installed from third-party sources.

Android Auto Coolwalk

Photo: Bogdan Popa/Car Evolution

Android Auto 9.1 does not enable Coolwalk

The main reason why many users like to install new Android Auto versions is because of Coolwalk. The major redesign announced in January is still rolling out and some users are hoping that by installing the latest update they can also get the new interface.

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

As such, Android Auto 9.1 won’t enable Coolwalk on your device if Google hasn’t already activated the interface. Coolwalk becomes available when Google decides your hardware setup is ready, so there’s nothing you can do to rush the process.

Android Auto Coolwalk

Photo: Bogdan Popa/Car Evolution

If the new interface appears after installing Android Auto 9.1, it’s 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 estimated time of arrival regarding wide availability. Indeed, the rollout will be completed this year, so it is expected that all users will receive the new Android Auto design in the coming months.

Most likely, the company will continue to focus on improving the Coolwalk experience with Android Auto updates, so upcoming releases won’t feature too many exciting changes. One of the most anticipated improvements concerns the weather map to be displayed on the Coolwalk screen. With the release of the new design, the weather information has been removed from the status bar, but the dedicated map is not yet available on portrait screens. Google is currently working to bring it back to all users.

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