How to update Android Auto

Android Auto puts commonly used smartphone apps and features right in your car’s dashboard. It overrides the native infotainment system with a familiar, easy-to-use interface that many motorists prefer. It reduces dangerous distractions, at least according to Google (but not according to AAA), and it makes upgrading an older car with new features a breeze.

Like most things in our digital lives, Android Auto and smartphones in general have to be updated frequently with the latest software, but the update process here is a bit different than you may think. The important thing to remember when thinking about the best way to update Android Auto is that the images and functions you see on the screen in your dash are a direct projection from your smartphone. That means that the version of Android Auto you’re using is a reflection of the version of Android your phone is running. It may not be possible to run the latest version of the software on older phones, but newer versions of the phone software will allow you to see the latest version of Android Auto as well. Here’s how to update Android Auto.

Further reading

Update Android Operating System

The first thing you’ll need to do is figure out which version of Android your phone is currently running. To do this, open your phone’s Settings app and scroll to the bottom of the menu, where you should see the Advanced option. From there, select System Update, where you will see your current Android version and security patch level. You should receive a notification once a new version of Android is available for your smartphone, but if you do not or if you accidentally clear the notification, you can follow the same steps to actually update the software.

Even after jumping through those hoops, it’s still completely possible to miss an Android Auto update. The app on your smartphone should have a settings option of its own, which will allow you to check for the ability to enable it there. In the Android Auto settings, there is a way to opt in to the new UI and features by selecting Try the new Android Auto option.

Google sometimes adds features or changes to Android functionality without issuing a full update. While there is supposedly a schedule detailing when upgraded software features debut, new features often appear off schedule. Pixel phones are the only devices that alert you of new releases as they happen, so you could miss it if you use a different phone. Individual smartphone companies take extra time to optimize software for their specific phones, causing significant delays in launching new versions.

Updates for your vehicle

Since Android Auto runs primarily on your phone, there are limited updates to manage on the vehicle side. If your vehicle’s current infotainment system doesn’t support Android Auto, you’re unlikely to gain the capability through an update.

Android Auto users need to keep the car’s firmware/software up to date. In some cases, this means taking over-the-air (OTA) updates from your vehicle’s manufacturer when available. The last resort would be to take your car in to the dealership so a technician can update your system. A technician cannot necessarily activate the newest features, but at least your infotainment system will run safely and fluidly.

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