Android Automotive 12 includes interface improvements, no 32-bit support, and much more
Android Automotive is Google’s Android-based operating system for car entertainment systems. While Android Auto simply mirrors apps and content from your phone to a car, Automotive functions independently, with its own Play Store and music playback abilities. Google recently completed a new Automotive update based on Android 12, and there are a few interesting changes.
Android Automotive 12 was technically released on October 4th, but as Mishaal Rahman pointed out on Twitter, Google was fairly quiet about the new update — presumably because it won’t actually arrive on any cars anytime soon. The update includes a new Power Policy API (for car makers to customize background tasks), an SMS reference client, prioritized heads-up notifications, a visual indicator for microphone access, a new app launcher, and a two-column design for the Settings app. Android’s Toasts API has also now been enabled, but only system applications can use it.
Interestingly, Android Automotive 12 is 64-bit only, making it the first official Android release to drop support for 32-bit platforms. Android on smartphones and tablets still works with 32-bit devices, but Arm doesn’t plan on supporting 32-bit operations new mobile CPUs after 2023, and Qualcomm’s latest chipsets can’t run 32-bit code on all of its cores.
Google hasn’t updated its Android Studio Emulator device images with an option for Android Automotive 12, but Rahman shared the below screenshots using an unofficial image from Snapp Automotive.
Even though Android Automotive was officially introduced in March 2017, it hasn’t reached many cars yet. The 2021 Polestar 2 was the first car with Automotive, and in the past year, Cadillac, General Motors, and Renault have announced or started selling cars running Automotive. Back in September, Renault Group showed off its upcoming Mégane E-TECH Electric car, which has Automotive with Google apps and Qualcomm’s Snapdragon Automotive Cockpit Platform. There have also been attempts to make Automotive available for existing cars, like an unofficial port to the Galaxy Tab S5e.
The full list of changes in Android 12 Automotive is available on the Android Source website. Google hasn’t said when (or if) the update will be pushed to cars running earlier versions of Android Automotive. The first car with Automotive, the Polestar 2, is still running Android 10.