Android Auto harnesses your phone’s features by mirroring its interface on your car’s display screen, allowing 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.
Android Auto lays out your smartphone’s apps on your car’s dashboard by overriding the car’s native infotainment system. It presents your phone’s content on Android’s sleek, intuitive interface, complete with large icons and legible menus you can swipe.
Google Maps is a great feature that provides step-by-step directions to your destination and automatically finds an alternate route if there is heavy traffic up ahead. It imports your saved destinations from your phone too, avoiding the hassle of typing your home or office address manually.
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, so you can set the soundtrack to your road trip. In most cases you’ll need an additional third-party account to use these features, but they can be free.
Android Auto keeps you connected wherever you are, allowing you to make hands-free phone calls and send messages via Google Hangouts, WhatsApp, and many other messaging platforms. Since it’s illegal to hold a phone while driving, using hands-free voice commands is your only way of communicating through your phone while behind the wheel.
Beyond just sending messages and making calls hands-free, Android Auto allows you to do almost anything else you can do on your phone without taking your hands off the wheel or eyes off the road. You can ask it questions to Google search, use in-built calculator functions, or even ask for translations of foreign road signs.
From cheap hatchbacks to high-end sports cars, there are many cars that 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.
Finding a used car that is compatible with Android Auto can be a little trickier, as carmakers took a while to hand over the dashboard reins to Google. However, there are ways to bypass compatibility issues.
Firstly, many aftermarket manufacturers offer Android Auto-compatible head units. This option may be a little pricey but 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.
We’ve covered car compatibility, but which smartphones can run Android Auto? Well, the good news is that any device running Android 5.0 and up with an active data plan can power Android Auto. However, it is recommended that you use an Android 6.0 or above for optimal results.
If your phone is running 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. Phones with Android’s latest operating system (10.0) come with built-in Android Auto functionality.