The first Android Auto 11 builds looks like a significant release that should include big changes, but this doesn’t seem to be the case. I installed the update on my device earlier today and took it for a spin for a few minutes. I couldn’t see anything different from Android Auto 10.9.
New Android Auto versions rarely come with major new additions, as Google focuses mostly on under-the-hood optimizations. Android Auto 11 makes no exception, so despite the big version change, it aligns with its predecessors.
If you want to try out this first Android Auto 11 build, you must download the APK installer on your device. Once the download ends, you must navigate to the file’s location and initiate the installer by tapping it. If your Android device does not allow sideloading (installing apps from non-Google Play Store sources), you should be prompted for the required permissions during the installation.
The process doesn’t take more than a few seconds, and you don’t have to remove the existing Android Auto version from your device.
While Android Auto 11 doesn’t yet bring any substantial improvements, Google is silently preparing big new features in the coming updates.
Not long ago, the search giant was spotted testing an early version of a disconnect button for Android Auto wireless users. If you run Android Auto without a cable, you probably know that the only way to shut down the application in the car is to turn off Bluetooth (which also disconnects accessories connected to the phone via Bluetooth, such as smartwatches). Google wants to make the experience more straightforward with a dedicated disconnect button in the notification center, and users can enable it to connect another phone in the cabin to the head unit.
Google is also developing a new option to allow the mobile phone wallpaper to roam across devices and serve as the Android Auto background. The feature will essentially enable custom wallpapers in the car, though it’s unclear if Google will also allow users to set another image as the Android Auto background (independent from the mobile device). The existing Android Auto versions allow users to choose a wallpaper from a pre-loaded set of backgrounds without support for custom photos or images stored on the mobile device. The work is in the early phases, and it’s unknown when Google plans to release this feature.