Android Auto tests a new UI with a media player and notification overlay
Google is testing a new UI in the Android Auto projected car interface that appears when you connect your device to a compatible head unit. This new UI, code-named “Coolwalk”, is seemingly designed to reduce the number of times the user leaves the navigation screen, potentially saving drivers from missing their next turn.
Screenshots of the new “Coolwalk” design were first published by Italian blog AndroidWorld, but we at XDA have also managed to enable the new interface in Android Auto. The biggest change in the new “Coolwalk” UI is the introduction of a new button that launches a semi-transparent overlay on top of the navigation screen. This overlay slides in from the left and displays a card showing the most recent notification and another card containing the media player widget. The cards for the notification and media player are opaque, making it hard to see the part of the map behind them, though the opacity could change as the feature is still in development. You’re still able to see a good 2/3 of the map view anyway, which should be enough to see where you need to go.
The icon for the app launcher has been changed, and the app launcher is now no longer the leftmost button in this new design. However, the notification icon has been moved from the right side to the left in this new design. Other than that, the rest of the Android Auto interface remains the same, including the app launcher, the Settings, the Assistant icon/overlay, the notifications screen, and the media player in the navigation bar.
The new “Coolwalk” design hasn’t rolled out to anyone yet with the latest Android Auto 6.9 update available in the beta channel. As AndroidWorld notes, the new design is pretty unfinished, and many things still don’t work. The music card, for instance, doesn’t do anything except play/pause your music, while the notification card doesn’t let you dismiss the notification. Thus, we’ll probably have to wait a while for the new design to go live, if it ever does. If it rolls out, users without a head unit wide enough to take advantage of Android Auto’s split-screen mode won’t have to constantly switch between screens to read their last notification or choose their next track.
AndroidWorld also reports — and we can confirm — that Android Auto is testing 3 new wallpapers. AA added a handful of wallpapers earlier this year that you can pick from to change the background of the app launcher, and it seems Google is preparing to add more. These wallpapers appear to be pulled from Google’s servers rather than the APK’s assets, which hints Google may add new wallpaper customization options in the future (perhaps a rotating wallpaper?)
Lastly, we have also enabled a new setting that lets you pick when Android Auto should start. You can let the car choose when to launch AA, launch AA if it was used during the last drive, or start AA with every drive. This could be useful if your car supports wireless AA and you don’t want to start it on every drive.
If you’re wondering why the screenshots look a bit off in this article, it’s because I took the screenshots from the Android Auto server running directly on my phone rather than projected to my car’s head unit. The reason? It was easier to take screenshots this way.
Thanks to PNF Software for providing us a license to use JEB Decompiler, a professional-grade reverse engineering tool for Android applications.