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 will sometimes add features or change Android functionality without issuing a full update. This is the case when new features are rolled out for Android Auto, as they generally come at times that don’t align closely with the full software release calendar. Unfortunately, unless you’re using a Pixel phone, you may not see the latest releases as soon as Google releases them. Individual smartphone companies take extra time to optimize the software for their specific phones, which can cause significant delays in getting new software out.

Updates for your vehicle

Since Android Auto runs primarily on your phone, there isn’t much in the way of updates to keep up with on the vehicle side. If your vehicle currently does not support Android Auto with the stock infotainment system, you’re unlikely to gain the capability through an update, but for those already running Android Auto, it’s a good idea to keep your car’s firmware/software as up to date as possible.

This may mean taking over-the-air (OTA) updates from your vehicle’s manufacturer when they become available, or in the most annoying cases, a trip to the dealership may be required to have a technician perform the update. This process may not enable new Android Auto features, but having the latest software will keep your vehicle’s infotainment system secure and running smoothly.

Editors' Recommendations