What is Android Auto?

Last updated April 23, 2021

Android Auto harnesses your phone’s features by mirroring its interface on your car’s display screen, enabling you to control its functions using the buttons and microphones on your dashboard. Intrigued? Read on to find out more about Google’s intuitive in-car system, Android Auto.

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Android Auto features

  • Google Maps navigation system

    Google Maps is a practical app providing step-by-step directions to your destination while automatically detecting alternate routes in heavy traffic. Its handy import feature allows you to import saved destinations from your phone, too, saving you the hassle of manually typing your home or office address.

  • On-demand music and podcasts

    Android Auto provides on-demand access to millions of songs and podcasts in your car via a host of third-party apps, including Spotify and iHeart Radio, setting the soundtrack to your journey. You’ll need a premium streaming account to use these features, but many offer free trials and reasonable subscription fees.

  • Hands-free messaging and calling

    Android Auto keeps you connected on the go, enabling hands-free phone calls and instant messaging via Google Hangouts, WhatsApp, and many other platforms. However, since it’s illegal to hold a phone while driving, you should only use hands-free voice commands when communicating behind the wheel.

  • Google Assistant

    Beyond hands-free calls and instant messaging, Android Auto enables almost every other phone function without taking your hands off the wheel or eyes off the road. It’ll convert verbal questions to a Google Search, translate foreign road signs, offer full calculator functionality, and much more.

Which cars are compatible with Android Auto?

  • New cars with Android Auto

    From cheap hatchbacks to high-end sports cars, many cars are compatible with Android Auto. However, bear in mind that some manufacturers will charge extra for the feature. You can find a full list of new cars offering Android Auto compatibility on the Android website.

  • Used cars with Android Auto

    Finding a used car compatible with Android Auto can be a little trickier, as carmakers took a while to hand over the dashboard reins to Google. There is a way to bypass compatibility issues, though.

    Many aftermarket manufacturers offer Android Auto-compatible head units, but they can be a little pricey. Fortunately, you can download Android Auto and use it as a standalone application. Once downloaded, mount your smartphone to your dashboard or windshield and launch the software.

Which phones are compatible with Android Auto?

We’ve covered car compatibility, but which smartphones can run Android Auto? The good news is that any device running Android 5.0 and up with an active data plan can power Android Auto. However, Android 6.0 or above is recommended for optimal results.

If your phone runs Android 9.0 or below, you’ll need to download the Android Auto app from the Google Play Store - but don’t worry, it’s free. What’s more, phones with Android’s latest operating system (10.0) come with built-in Android Auto functionality.

Android Auto FAQs

Android Auto enables you to view your phone’s content on your car’s infotainment screen via a USB cable or Bluetooth.

To set up Android Auto, plug a USB cable into your car’s USB port and the other end into your Android device (you may receive a download prompt). Then follow the on-screen instructions to complete the setup. Once set up, select Android Auto on your car display to get started. Alternatively, you can complete the setup wirelessly via Bluetooth.

Turn off Android Auto by accessing your phone’s settings, navigating to applications, and then finding the Android Auto option. Turn off Android Auto by tapping the Deactivate button at the top left of your screen.

Although it’s impossible to provide an accurate estimation of data use without specific usage details, Android Auto uses many data-rich apps like Google Maps and Spotify. With that in mind, make sure you have a high enough data allowance on your tariff to avoid additional costs.