A fresh update to the Android Auto app began rolling out yesterday, but it doesn't appear to include any notable changes to the interface on either the phone or in the car. But that doesn't mean this update is just for bug fixes, there isn't something interesting floating around inside the apk that can only be seen through the lens of a teardown. We can look forward to at least one important new feature: Auto will soon get to use our calendar appointments to suggest directions when we're on the way to a destination. As always, grab the apk from the link at the bottom if you don't have it on your phone already.
The features discussed below are probably not live yet, or may only be live for a small percentage of users. Unless stated otherwise, don't expect to see these features if you install the apk.
Android Auto is often criticized for being a bit too cautious and missing opportunities to do good things with information from Google's assorted services. While there's much left to do, the in-car experience is about to get just a little more intuitive about your schedule. Android Auto will soon be able to directly access your Google Calendars and offer timely directions to your upcoming appointments.
<string name="frx_apps_permission_message_with_cal">Next, allow Android Auto to easily work with navigation, music, calls, messages, calendar, and voice commands.</string>
<string name="missing_permissions_notification_title">Need directions to your next appointment?</string>
<string name="missing_permissions_notification_big_text">Tap to give Android Auto access to your calendars.</string>
<string name="missing_permissions_notification_text">Tap to give Android Auto access to your calendars.</string>
<string name="permission_calendar_description">Allows access to all your calendars within Android Auto</string>
Simply stated, Auto will be able to access your calendars and suggest directions to your next appointment. Unfortunately, that's about as much as we can get from the new lines. Most of them are spent asking for permission to access calendars, and there's nothing relating to the interface or whether users can turn certain calendars on or off. Of course, that would be important to cut down on the noise of shared calendars, and is already demonstrated in the companion app for Android Wear.
Much of what's described above is already presented via Google Assistant, but the Auto app itself didn't integrate with calendars. That may mean there are more contextually aware features coming, rather than relying on Assistant to make those decisions.
While it's not spelled out, I think it's safe to assume appointment suggestions will be presented as cards in the main feed. It's also possible they may appear in the screen for navigation.
I'm reluctant to guess how long it will be until this launches, especially since the Auto team surely has to be more cautious with introducing functionality. Seeing as the majority of strings are only asking for permissions and have almost nothing to do with customization or interface elements, I suspect the feature is incomplete in this version, or it may be dependent on another app to deliver the missing pieces.
The APK is signed by Google and upgrades your existing app. The cryptographic signature guarantees that the file is safe to install and was not tampered with in any way. Rather than wait for Google to push this download to your devices, which can take days, download and install it just like any other APK.