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Android Auto 12.1 is now live for all users
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Photo: Bogdan Popa/autoevolution

Long-time Android Auto users certainly remember the times when Google needed more than one year for an app update. It was a frustrating experience, mainly because even the most critical bugs were left without a patch for months.

While Google still hasn’t resolved the stability side of Android Auto, it has significantly accelerated the release pace. New updates now land regularly, and the beta program plays a key role in Google’s strategy for more frequent app updates.

Android Auto 12.1 landed in the beta program one week ago, and the company has now started the rollout for production devices. Version 12.1 stable has recently been published on the Google Play Store, with the rollout now happening to the first waves of devices.

Google uses a phased rollout model for Android Auto updates. This means that not all users get the update on the same day, as the search giant wants to find and diagnose bugs in an early phase. As a result, the update gains pace as Google determines its reliability.

From a user perspective, the rollout is a painful process that could take several weeks. Not everybody wants to wait that long, and fortunately, the workaround is simple.

All you need to do is download the stand-alone APK installer. The Android Auto 12.1 APK allows users to install the latest update manually—just get the file, save it to your device, navigate to its location, and tap it to initiate the update. Depending on your device configuration, you might be required to unlock certain permissions but follow the on-screen wizard, and you should be good to go.

Google didn’t share an updated changelog, so users must discover what’s new on their own. I didn’t notice any big changes on my devices, so let me know in the box after the jump if Android Auto 12.1 brings something worthy.

Meanwhile, Android Auto will soon get the update everybody is waiting for. Google has confirmed that video apps, including YouTube, will be unlocked on Android Auto. However, the apps will land in the Android Auto world as part of a beta program before the app opens its doors wide open to all video solutions. For example, it’s probably a matter of time before video streaming services go live on Android Auto, as they have already debuted on Android Automotive. YouTube is also live on Android Automotive, so Google has no reason to block it on Android Auto.

The rollout won’t be tied to a specific Android Auto version, so installing build 12.1 won’t unlock new app categories. The update is still recommended for all users despite the lack of a changelog, as it likely includes under-the-hood optimizations and bug fixes that improve the experience with the app.

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