Ex-CarPlay users have reported deja vu as a side effect of the update.
Android Auto and CarPlay are the great equalizers of car infotainment. Everything, from the Honda Civic to the Ferrari SF90, can be had with the popular phone-mirroring tech, though it is a $5,000 option in the aforementioned Ferrari hypercar. Regardless, CarPlay got a big update earlier this year, and now Google has readied one for AA.
The new Android Auto update, known as "Coolwalk," will feature a new user interface and layout for the software, and it looks a whole lot like CarPlay. While Google missed its original summer target for the update, some users are finding they have access to it now, especially if they have enrolled in the beta program.
For now, it's unclear how Google decides who gets a spin with Coolwalk. Short of being opted-in for the Android Auto Beta, there are no clear steps. We imagine Google has some finalizing to do before a more comprehensive update is rolled out.
Moreover, the update is scaling. Previously, Coolwalk was only usable on infotainment systems with a touch-based interface, but now, rotary and other control interfaces are receiving the update. That aside, the redesign features a few familiar touches for those that have used CarPlay. That includes the new "tile" layout system.
CarPlay has used this since its inception, and we've found it to be vastly more usable than the current AA interface simply because more information is available at once. Previously, users had to manually tap around and switch apps using the interface. It was tedious, depending on the response speed of the system. Now it appears multiple tiles can be displayed at once.
Despite the apparent similarities, CarPlay will encroach further into some vehicles than Android Auto. It will be able to display relevant info in your car's gauge cluster soon, including range estimates and efficiency.
For now, all we know about a wider rollout for the Coolwalk update is that Google has slated it for 2023. That could be two weeks from now or almost a year from now. Given the updates, our money is on sooner rather than later.