Android Auto 2.3 Hints at adding New Experimental Home Cards

Friday

Back during Google I/O 2016, Google announced that they would be rolling out an update to the Android Auto app to bring a driver-friendly user interface without needing an Android Auto compatible vehicle. This update didn’t roll out until November, several months after Google I/O, though. But it did eventually be released, as promised, even though the app has seen few updates since its initial release. Version 2.3 of the app started rolling out this week on the Google Play Store, and while we haven’t found much in the way of new features, an APK teardown of the app reveals that Google will soon add new cards to the home screen of the app.

Although an APK teardown can often predict features that may arrive in a future update of an application, it is possible that any of the features we mention here may not make it in a future release. This is because these features are currently unimplemented in the live build and may be pulled at any time by Google in a future build.


Android Auto Card Redesign

As of now, a few of the cards shown in the Android Auto app include your recent calls, your navigation status, and the status of any media that is currently playing back. But within the APK file of the latest Android Auto update are hints that Google may be adding more cards to the home screen page.

<string name="engineer_settings_enable_experimental_home_cards_title">Use Experimental Home Cards</string>
<string name="engineer_settings_home_cards_title">Home Cards</string>

As you can see, there appears to be a new toggle hidden within the app that allows you to use some new experimental home cards. We can see in a layout file that this new toggle is hidden in Android Auto’s Engineer Settings page where one of the most anticipated features of the app, WiFi Projection, can also be enabled.

engineer_preferences.xml

&lt;?xml version="1.0" encoding="utf-8"?&gt;
&lt;PreferenceScreen
xmlns:android="http://schemas.android.com/apk/res/android"&gt;
&lt;PreferenceCategory android:title="@string/engineer_settings_wifi_title" android:key="wifi"&gt;
&lt;SwitchPreference android:title="@string/engineer_settings_enable_wifi_projection" android:key="enable_wifi_projection" android:defaultValue="false" /&gt;
&lt;/PreferenceCategory&gt;
&lt;PreferenceCategory android:title="@string/engineer_settings_parking_card_title" android:key="parking_card"&gt;
&lt;SwitchPreference android:title="@string/engineer_settings_parking_card_show_location_info" android:key="parking_card_show_location_info" android:defaultValue="false" /&gt;
&lt;EditTextPreference android:title="@string/engineer_settings_parking_card_max_speed" android:key="parking_card_max_speed_mps" android:defaultValue="" android:inputType="numberDecimal" /&gt;
&lt;/PreferenceCategory&gt;
&lt;PreferenceCategory android:title="@string/engineer_settings_home_cards_title" android:key="home"&gt;
&lt;SwitchPreference android:title="@string/engineer_settings_enable_experimental_home_cards_title" android:key="home_cards_experimental" android:defaultValue="false" /&gt;
&lt;/PreferenceCategory&gt;
&lt;/PreferenceScreen&gt;

The fact that this toggle cannot be accessed through regular usage of the Android Auto app did not deter us, however, as we figured out a way to access the hidden Engineer Settings of the app in order to enable these toggles! Unfortunately, even after enabling the new Experimental Home Cards toggle, I did not see any new cards. What these new home cards are supposed to do I am not sure of at this time.

I’ll continue digging around and update this article if I find anything interesting in the live build, or through an APK teardown. If you are looking for this latest release of the Android Auto, you can download it right now over at APKMirror. Follow our APK Teardown tag for more articles like this!

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