The work on Android Auto is divided into two branches. On the one hand, the beta program allows users to download and install pre-release versions of new Android Auto updates, send feedback to Google, and contribute to a more refined experience behind the wheel.

A new Android Auto version is live in the beta channel
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Photo: Bogdan Popa/autoevolution

On the other hand, Android Auto stable builds should benefit from a more polished release, allowing users who don’t want to become Google’s “guinea pigs” to download and install builds that should theoretically run flawlessly.

Google has just promoted a new Android Auto build to the beta phase.

Android Auto 11.6 beta landed in the hands of users enrolled in the testing program a few hours ago, but the good news is that anyone can download this build using the stand-alone APK installer. You shouldn’t do this if you’re a beginner who expects full reliability and stability.

Android Auto beta builds are only aimed at testers who understand the risks of running pre-release software, so you should stick with stable updates if fighting bugs isn’t your favorite cup of tea.

The first step for test-driving Android Auto 11.6 beta is downloading the APK installer. Once the file lands on your device, you must browse to its location using a file manager and tap it to initiate the update. If this is the first time you manually install an app on your smartphone, you’ll have to grant special permissions, as Android only allows Google Play Store app installs by default.

The update should complete in seconds, and you won’t need to remove the existing Android version on your device.

If you’re here to look for information about what’s new in Android Auto 11.6, nothing has changed from the previous updates. Google has remained as tight-lipped as ever, and the release notes included in this release are the same outdated lines of text last updated several years ago.

I installed Android Auto 11.6 on my device but couldn’t spot a major change, albeit this is hardly a surprise. Most new Android Auto features now roll out based on a server-controlled release, so you get them by simply updating the app to the latest version. Google enables them in stages for users worldwide using a phased approach.

The new big Android Auto features that are coming to users include support for phone wallpapers and icons and message summaries powered by the integration of artificial intelligence in Google Assistant. The rollout has already started for users in the production stage, with message summaries appearing on some devices – it’s still unavailable on my phone. However, you should remember that it’s only available in certain regions with limited languages, including English.

Google should promote Android Auto 11.6 to the stable channel in a few weeks if no major bug is discovered during the beta phase.

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