Android Auto force updates that cut old phones

Android Auto has been around for the better part of a decade at this point and has worked with all phones for a very long time. After quietly raising its requirements earlier this year, it appears that Google is essentially cutting older phones from using Android Auto with a forced update.

Looking back a bit, Google quietly confirmed earlier this year that Android Auto would now require the connected smartphone to run at least Android 8.0 (Oreo) or higher. This is higher than the previous requirements for Android 6.0.

While this requirement for future updates is entirely reasonable, it appears that Google is taking a step forward.

Over the past few weeks, some Android Auto users have noticed that older versions of the Android Auto app throw a popup saying that an update is required 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 significant redesign of Android Auto that should arrive sometime relatively soon.

We think 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 block the platform from running on car screens.

The effect of this is that users with Android phones older than Android 6.0 and Android 7.0 are unable to 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 to issue a buggy version. An ongoing issue over the past several months has been that Waze for Android Auto has shown a blank screen to some users, with Android Auto 7.7 being the last version that didn’t cause the issue. With the forced upgrade that seems to be happening, users have no choice but to use newer versions of the apps that seem to be causing this problem.

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

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