Google tests new Android Auto UI for easier multitasking on small screens

Google Assistant on Android Auto
Google Assistant on Android Auto (Image credit: Ara Wagoner / Android Central)

What you need to know

  • Google is reportedly testing a new interface for Android Auto.
  • The UI change could make multitasking easier on cars with smaller displays.
  • The new UI doesn't appear to be widely available just yet.

As Google prepares to ditch the dedicated Android Auto for phones screens app on the best Android phones, the company is constantly trying to make Android Auto better on your car's screen. The latest test shows how the company could improve the experience for cars with smaller displays.

A new UI has been spotted by AndroidWorld, which brings easier multitasking capabilities to Android Auto. The company recently launched a split-screen view for cars with large devices, but the new UI, codename "Coolwalk," brings similar functionality to small displays with a new overlay.

From the looks of it, the new "Coolwalk" UI allows for tabs to appear over the map to give users access to music apps and notifications. A new button also appears, which activates the new overlay, taking over where the circular launcher button lived.

You can see the before and after below:

Source: XDA-Developers

The updated UI appears for some on the Android Auto beta channel with version 6.9; however, according to AndroidWorld, the new UI is not fully functioning. The music tab is apparently limited to music controls; you can't open the app from the tab. Notifications are also buggy, as you reportedly can't dismiss them from the overlay.

Additionally, while the overlay appears transparent to some degree, the cards are fully opaque, meaning part of the map will be difficult to see, particularly directions which are covered completely by the overlay. However, given that this is a beta, that could change in future updates.

AndroidWorld also notes that new wallpapers have also arrived on Android Auto after they first appeared on the platform earlier this year, as well as a manual selection for the driving side.

XDA Developers has also spotted a feature that lets users select when Android Auto launches, whether by default, if Android Auto was used during the last drive, or with every drive.

If you're on the latest Android Auto beta, there doesn't seem to be a guarantee that you'll receive the new "Coolwalk" UI, which may be a good thing considering that it appears to be quite buggy still. If you've noticed it on your display, let us know your thoughts on the new UI.

Derrek Lee
News Editor

Derrek is a long-time Nokia and LG fanboy who loves astronomy, videography, and sci-fi movies. When he's not working, he's most likely working out or smoldering at the camera.

  • Multi-tasking Android auto behind the wheel. What could possibly go wrong? If you are driving, and doing anything else, you are multi-tasking. There should be only one task a motorist should be focused on behind the wheel. That is piloting their vehicle safely down the road. Never fiddling with a touch screen that requires your eyes. Old button radios you could feel what you needed without looking down. Touchscreens are a horrible addition to automobiles.
  • Wouldn't you want to split screen YouTube Video and Twitter?