Android Auto forces updates that cut old phones

Android Auto has been around for the better part of a decade at this point and has worked for all phones for quite a long time. After quietly increasing its requirements earlier this year, Google appears to be essentially blocking older phones from using Android Auto with a forced update.

Looking back a bit, Google quietly confirmed earlier this year that Android Auto will now require the connected smartphone to be running at least Android 8.0 (Oreo) or higher. This is up from the previous Android 6.0 requirement.

While this requirement for future updates is entirely reasonable, Google seems to go further.

Over the past few weeks, some Android Auto users have noticed that older versions of the Android Auto app are throwing a pop-up indicating that an update is needed to continue using the app. This seems to happen with Android Auto versions 7.0 to 7.7. It seems reasonable to assume that this is a change made in part to prepare for “Coolwalk”, a major overhaul of Android Auto which is supposed to arrive at some point relatively soon.

We believe the popup below is what these users are referring to. As they describe, the popup will only go away if you update the Android Auto app and prevent the platform from launching on car screens.

This has the effect that users of older Android phones running Android 6.0 and Android 7.0 cannot use Android Auto, as Android Auto 7.4 was the last version compatible with pre-Oreo versions. Another side effect, it seems, is that Waze users are forced into a buggy version. A persistent issue over the past few months has seen Waze for Android Auto show a blank screen for some users, with Android Auto 7.7 being the latest version that did not trigger the issue. With the forced upgrade that seems to be taking place, users have no choice but to use newer app versions that seem to be causing this issue.

Realistically, this won’t be a problem for the vast majority of Android Auto users, as Android 7.0 and earlier make up less than 15% of total Android distribution in May 2022.

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