In a nutshell, Android Auto 8.0 contains nothing more than your usual round of bug fixes, according to Android Police. On the one hand, that’s a good thing, considering how unstable the platform has been of late. On the other hand, it doesn’t feel like it’s worthy of getting a “point-oh” release if that is all that it contains. Another number in the 7.x series would have probably been less confusing and disappointing.
Android Auto’s remaining fans and users will probably be most disappointed by how Google’s most exciting UI change is still missing in action. After being leaked last year, the split-screen feature codenamed Coolwalk was officially confirmed at I/O last May. It may sound like nitpicking for such a small feature, but it is a barometer of the health of the platform when something as basic as split-screen hasn’t yet made it to Android Auto. Admittedly, it could happen via a server-side change, but there doesn’t seem to be any indication of that happening in this particular 8.0 version of the app.
Making matters worse, 9to5Google reports another breaking update, this time in the form of a 7.8.6 maintenance release. Owners of several phone brands, including a Pixel, are reporting getting “phone not compatible” error messages when trying to use Android Auto after the update. Given the state of the platform over the past two years, the arrival of this bug isn’t too shocking. Unfortunately, it also shows just how much work Google still needs to do to prevent Android Auto from being a laughing stock in the automotive industry.