Google’s Android Auto platform has seen some pretty big updates over the past year, and now it seems another major update is on the horizon. In Android Auto v5.8, Google is laying the groundwork for supporting wallpapers and more.

About APK Insight: In this ‘APK Insight’ post, we’ve decompiled the latest version of an application that Google uploaded to the Play Store. When we decompile these files (called APKs, in the case of Android apps), we’re able to see various lines of code within that hint at possible future features. Keep in mind that Google may or may not ever ship these features, and our interpretation of what they are may be imperfect. We’ll try to enable those that are closer to being finished, however, to show you how they’ll look in the case that they do ship. With that in mind, read on.

Android Auto wallpapers

Since the platform’s debut, Android Auto has always lacked any real customization. The latest interface has the ability to change the layout of app icons, but that’s about it. Following an update to Apple’s CarPlay, which enabled support for wallpapers, though, it seems Google is about to go down the same route.

In Android Auto v5.8, we can see that Google is laying the groundwork for wallpapers. A collection of strings in the app point towards a collection of preset wallpapers by the names of:

  • Black
  • Blobs
  • Mountains
  • Droplets
  • Dusk
  • Warp
  • Wave

While the setting is not yet live in the app itself, we were able to extract the wallpapers — notably, some of the names don’t line up with the list — from the latest Android Auto app. The current default wallpaper is included, but the rest of the collection adds some colors.

What about custom wallpapers? Unfortunately, there’s no concrete evidence that Google will allow this yet. One string mentions “custom_wallpaper_selection_title,” but it seems very likely this is just referring to users being able to choose from the several options. In any case, this is a step in the right direction.

Custom Google Assistant shortcuts

It also looks like custom Assistant shortcuts are also inching closer to release. We first spotted this feature back in Android Auto v5.7, but in v5.8, more strings appear to give us better insight as to what’s coming.

Android Auto’s homescreen supports a handful of Assistant shortcuts for reminders, calendar appointments, and more. Soon, though, you’ll be able to create custom shortcuts from scratch. In this latest version of the app, we can see that Google is preparing this functionality with the ability to customize the name, the launcher icon, and the command handed off to Google Assistant. Alternatively, the custom shortcut can also call a specific contact.

The folks over at XDA were able to get the feature working, but it’s not enabled by default for users right now.

Google Assistant Routines may return

If you’ll recall, Google revealed earlier this year that Assistant Routines aren’t officially supported on Android Auto. That was a strange revelation given the feature worked back in 2018, but it was what it was. That may change soon, though. In v5.8, Google alludes to routines being supported again with a brief paragraph.

“Turn on the porch lights. Read the last message I received. Start my morning commute routine.”

This one could go either way, but obviously we’re hoping to see Assistant routines get a proper return.

VPN block

Interestingly, there’s also a notice being prepared in the Android Auto app that explains that VPN’s may block Android Auto from properly working.

Being connected to a VPN may prevent Android Auto from starting.

If you’re using a VPN, turn it off and try reconnecting to Android Auto.

Kyle Bradshaw contributed to this article.

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