Android Auto Overview Updated May 21, 2021

Android Auto

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259 'Android Auto' stories

June 2014 - July 2022

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You should always focus on the road when you’re driving a vehicle, but maps and music can make the journey better. That’s why phone-powered platforms have become a favorite for many car owners. Android Auto is Google’s offering for owners of Pixel, Samsung, and other popular smartphones. Here’s what you need to know about it.

What is Android Auto?

Google’s Android Auto platform isn’t its own operating system. Rather, it is an extension of a connected Android smartphone that can display some apps, entertainment, and mirror messages on a car’s dashboard. The platform was announced in 2014 with tie-ins to Google Calendar, Maps, and other products. The original design mirrored Google Now with cards for weather, appointments, and infotainment such as music controls.

Later, in 2019, Google revamped the design of Auto entirely with a focus on apps and shortcuts, as well as deeper reliance on Google Assistant.

In my experience with the new Android Auto, the biggest positive change has been the new navigation system. Instead of the row of apps switchers, Google has opted for just three static buttons. There’s a home button off to the far left side of the display, with buttons for notifications and Google Assistant on the right side. Having the home button off to the right makes it just a bit easier to use since it’s closer to the driver.

Another big change that Google has made to the new Android Auto is the addition of Google Assistant “apps” on the homescreen. Filling out the app drawer on the new homescreen, you’ll see the likes of Weather, News, and more. These aren’t actually proper applications, but rather, buttons you can push to trigger what would otherwise be voice commands.

The new design has since been updated to include a gallery of wallpaper options and powerful Google Assistant shortcuts that can be customized by the user for essentially any action, like opening the garage door, for example.

Android Auto is designed to help keep driver’s attention on the road rather than their smartphone. The platform limits users to just a handful of apps, primarily those used for media, such as Spotify, YouTube Music, and others. Mapping apps are also a core part of the platform, with Google Maps and Waze both offering apps. In 2021, Google opened up Android Auto to more third-party mapping apps, with Sygic and TomTom quick to offer their own apps.

Traditionally, Android Auto connects to your vehicle over a wired USB connection, but it can also be done wirelessly. You’ll first need an Android smartphone using Android 11 or higher (or a Pixel/Samsung device on Android 9 and up), as well as a vehicle that supports wireless Android Auto. If your vehicle only supports a wired connection, the third-party AAWireless dongle can be used to add that functionality to nearly any car.

What cars support Android Auto?

Advanced infotainment systems are a crucial part of modern cars, and, in most cases, they come with support for Google’s Android Auto and Apple’s CarPlay. Notable brands that support Google’s offering in at least some widely available vehicles include the following, and you can view the full list here.

  • Audi
  • BMW
  • Buick
  • Cadillac
  • Chevrolet
  • Chrysler
  • Dodge
  • Fiat
  • Ford
  • GMC
  • Honda
  • Hyundai
  • Kia
  • Mazda
  • Mitsubishi
  • Nissan
  • Ram
  • Subaru
  • Toyota
  • Volkswagen
  • Volvo

There are well over 500 different vehicles sold today that include Android Auto support, and the list is constantly growing. For example, Porsche recently announced it would add support for Google’s platform starting in its 2022 Porsche 911. At I/O 2021, Google announced that over 100 million cars on the road support Android Auto natively. The company also mentioned that future updates to the platform would enable better support for modern vehicle displays including the instrument cluster. Apparently, widgets may also soon come to Android Auto.

If your car doesn’t natively support Android Auto, you can add it with the help of a third-party head unit. Popular brands that offer Google’s platform include Pioneer, Sony, Alpine, and others.

You can learn more about Google’s platform in our continued coverage below, and read our review of the updated design here.

Android Auto Stories Today

Android Auto 7.9 now available in beta, as previous update rolls out widely

Google is rolling out a new update for Android Auto with the version number 7.9, just in time for the previous update to finally be rolling out more widely.

Android Auto Stories June 21

Android Auto is officially saying goodbye to the version that works directly on your phone, as it moves to being an experience “only available for car screens.”

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You can now buy the first wireless Android Auto adapter, AAWireless, directly for $89

If you’ve ever wanted to use Android Auto in its wireless form, an adapter to do so has probably come on your radar. Now, after almost two years in the works, the first wireless Android Auto adapter, AAWireless, can finally be purchased directly.

Android Auto Stories June 17

Google Maps is one of the most useful apps on your phone, which is why any flaws can be particularly annoying. Following some recent updates, though, Google Maps on Android Auto has had its dark mode broken for some users, and there’s no clear fix available yet.

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Android Auto Stories June 13

Here’s where to buy the Motorola MA1 dongle for wireless Android Auto [Update: In-store stock]

The demand for adding wireless Android Auto to your car is unsurprisingly high, which makes Motorola’s “dead simple” MA1 dongle a hard gadget to buy. Here’s where you can find it in the US.

Android Auto Stories June 8

No, Android Auto isn’t going away

You might have read recently that Google is turning Assistant Driving Mode into its primary driving experience on smartphones, with a version of Android Auto going by the wayside. Let’s take a minute to clear things up – Android Auto is not going away.

Android Auto Stories June 6

Last week we reported that Android Auto for Phone Screens is set to die off in the very near future, leaving Google Assistant Driving Mode as the only path forward for Android users looking for a car-friendly user interface. While Google often kills products in a way that’s necessary to build something better, it’s pretty hard to see that argument this time around.

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Android Auto Stories June 5

Motorola MA1 wireless Android Auto adapter launched at Best Buy, where it’s also sold out

Launched early this year, the Motorola MA1 is the device that brought the idea of a wireless Android Auto adapter to the mainstream market, despite it not being the first. In the time since, the Motorola MA1 has also quietly expanded sales to Best Buy.

Android Auto Stories June 4

Not too long after the prior version, Google has started rolling out Android Auto 7.8 to some users while also doing some new tests with its beta group for the app.

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Android Auto Stories June 2

There are plenty of people out there who use Android Auto on their phones. After all, it’s an alternative to what can sometimes be an expensive Android OS for your vehicle. Unfortunately, that Android app has been deemed “totaled” by Google. This guide will give you the rundown on Google Assistant’s “Driving Mode,” a capable replacement for Android Auto on mobile.

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Android Auto is an excellent platform, but as it’s evolved, it’s also removed some of its features. Over the past week, it’s become clear that Google is ready to say goodbye to the Android Auto for Phone Screens experience in its entirety.

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Android Auto Stories May 28

Android Auto Bluetooth: How the wireless version works, and what supports it

Android Auto is a safer way to interact with your music, maps, and messages while in the car. It’s supported on a ton of vehicles but usually requires you to connect over a wire. Many wonder if you can connect to Android Auto over Bluetooth. While you can connect wirelessly, it’s a bit more complicated than that.

Android Auto Stories May 26

AAWireless, the first wireless Android Auto dongle, is about to graduate from Indiegogo

Android Auto is a more useful tool when it’s wireless, and dongles have made that remarkably easy over the past couple of years. AAWireless was the first dongle to make that process easy, and now it’s finally approaching the end of its Indiegogo period.

Android Auto Stories May 16

The latest update to Android Auto includes fixes for some of the issues that prevented some Galaxy S22 owners from connecting their phone to their car, but may have caused new problems for others.

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Android Auto Stories May 12

At Google I/O 2022, Android Auto is getting a split-screen mode that lets you always see navigation and media controls, while this redesign can adapt to any screen size and is particularly ideal for those with older cars that have smaller displays. It comes as Android Auto is now available on over 150 million cars worldwide.

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Android Auto Stories May 7

Due to the ongoing chip shortage, BMW has begun shipping select models to customers without the usual Android Auto and CarPlay support.

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Android Auto Stories May 3

The infotainment system in your car isn’t a one-size-fits-all arrangement. There are numerous types of screens and setups in modern cars, and extra-wide displays have become fairly common. Thanks to recent updates, some Hyundai vehicles with widescreen layouts are getting better Android Auto support.

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Android Auto Stories May 2

Android Auto 7.6 update is now rolling out widely

Google is rolling out a fresh update to Android Auto, bumping the app update to version 7.6 for all Android users.

Android Auto Stories April 29

Wireless Android Auto is incredibly convenient, but it’s still relatively rare to find this feature built into your vehicle. However, a simple wireless Android Auto adapter makes it incredibly easy to add the functionality — here are some of the biggest questions about the products.

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Android Auto Stories April 28

How to use wireless Android Auto

Our phones have the ability to make a commute or road trip better with free navigation and access to music and more, and systems like Android Auto make all of that safer and less distracting. While Android Auto is convenient in any form, it’s best when wireless. Here’s how to use wireless Android Auto.

Android Auto Stories April 25

Android Auto rolls out support for one-tap quick replies to messages

Months after the feature was announced, Google is now rolling out support for quick replies to messages via Android Auto.

Android Auto Stories April 19

Wireless Android Auto has been around for quite a while now, but for ages, it felt like something that only a brand new car would solve. That all changed with the arrival of wireless Android Auto dongles, and the Motorola MA1 dongle was pitched as the “easy” version, with a dead-simple experience and direct backing from Google. After a few months of use, though, I’m not so convinced MA1 is the best option.

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Android Auto Stories April 14

Wireless Android Auto has been around for a few years, but it’s been slow to adoption from carmakers. This week, Subaru announced it will adopt both wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay in its 2023 Outback.

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Android Auto Stories March 31

After appearing almost a year ago, the “Media Picks” audio suggestion section now appears to be available more widely to Android Auto users.

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Android Auto Stories March 17

Android Auto is finally nearing a rollout for a tool we first spotted nearly a year ago. With the latest update, Android Auto can check the quality of your USB cable to see if it’s causing you any issues.

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Android Auto Stories March 9

Wireless Android Auto is a convenient feature, and judging by the popularity of the Motorola MA1 and AAWireless, it’s also something a whole lot of people want to get their hands on. Unfortunately, the Motorola MA1 has been left completely out of stock across all storefronts for over a month now, and scalpers are taking advantage of the unmet demand.

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Android Auto Stories February 1

Motorola’s wireless Android Auto dongle sells out instantly on Amazon, now available at Target [U]

The first Google-certified dongle for bringing wireless Android Auto to cars is launching today, but launch inventory sold out instantly. Luckily, a restock of the Motorola MA1 is in the works.

Android Auto Stories January 31

Android Auto is far from a stagnant platform, but it hasn’t seen any major UI changes since its overhaul in 2019. For the past few months, a new Android Auto UI known as “Coolwalk” has been in development with a dashboard style, and Google is still working on the project.

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Android Auto Stories January 27

Wireless Android Auto support is something rarely seen built into cars, but the rise of third-party dongles has made it much easier to bring this functionality to cars that don’t already have it. Tomorrow, a new wireless Android Auto dongle under the Motorola brand will officially launch, and – based on our brief first impressions – the Motorola MA1 seems like a great option.

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Android Auto Stories January 21

Systems like Android Auto and CarPlay are designed to make interacting with messages, calls, and media safer and more convenient in the car, but when they first debuted they came with the caveat of requiring you to connect a cable. While that’s a simple task, it’s one that quick trips would often not really justify. That’s what AAWireless, a dongle that adds wireless Android Auto to your car, tries to solve.

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Android Auto Stories January 13

Last year saw the emergence of dongles that let you use Google’s phone-powered car UI for navigation, messaging, and entertainment wirelessly even if your vehicle doesn’t support that natively. Motorola is now making a wireless Android Auto adapter.

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Android Auto Stories December 1, 2021

As a part of its latest Android announcements, Google is announcing new features for Android Auto. Rolling out soon, Android Auto will add support for touchscreen-based quick replies for message notifications.

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Android Auto Stories November 29, 2021

After years of user requests, Google finally confirmed earlier this year that Android Auto would be adding support for dual-SIM smartphones. Now, it appears that functionality is finally rolling out to users.

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Android Auto Stories November 15, 2021

Android Auto 7.1 tries to fix an issue with Telegram messages

Google’s Android Auto makes trips and daily commutes easier for many, but it often gets hit with issues. This month, Google has patched up one of those problems, with a recent Android Auto update trying to address a problem with Telegram.

Android Auto Stories November 4, 2021

Android Auto does not appear in the Pixel 6’s app launcher, but settings can still be accessed

Android 12 replaces “Android Auto for Phone Screens” with the long-awaited Assistant Driving Mode. As part of that, most people with the Pixel 6 and 6 Pro lose the Android Auto icon in the app launcher.

Android Auto Stories October 12, 2021

With Android 12, the “Android Auto for Phone Screens” experience is going away in favor of Google Assistant. That transition is happening for more users as of late, while Assistant Driving Mode can now auto-launch when it connects to your vehicle’s Bluetooth.

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Android Auto Stories September 30, 2021

Android Auto now works in Tesla vehicles through the browser

A developer managed to get Android Auto working in Tesla vehicles through the web browser and an app on Google Play.

Android Auto Stories September 23, 2021

Google today has three car experiences, and all of them are seeing updates. The biggest is an upcoming “Hey Google, pay for gas” command, while Android Auto is getting new media and connectivity features.

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Android Auto Stories September 21, 2021

Android Auto and the various available apps are built with safety and quick interactions in mind. This involves putting controls close to the driver, but that’s not always the case in some parts of the world. To help remedy that, Google Maps in Android Auto can now adapt its UI for right-hand-drive vehicles. 

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Android Auto Stories September 14, 2021

Google is working on a redesign of Android Auto that borrows elements from Material You and makes your notifications more easily accessible.

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Android Auto Stories September 8, 2021

Android Auto expands to more countries — here’s the full list [Update: Indonesia, Thailand]

Google’s Android Auto platform has become a standard part of many new cars, much to the benefit of users. Now, Google is expanding where Android Auto is officially available, opening the platform up to quite a few new countries across the continent of Europe and more.

Android Auto Stories September 3, 2021

Google says it has fixed two frustrating Android Auto location issues

Google’s Android Auto platform makes it easy to control media and gets navigation from your phone up on your car’s screen, but it sometimes comes with annoying quirks and problems. This week Google has confirmed that two location issues with Android Auto have been patched up.

Android Auto Stories August 19, 2021

Android Auto gets another crowdfunded dongle to add wireless support to your car

Wireless Android Auto ups the convenience factor for Google’s in-car platform, but support in vehicles is still incredibly scarce. The first dongle designed to easily add support for the feature to existing cars made its way to market last year, and now, another is making its debut with “Carsifi,” a “Wireless Android Auto adapter.”

Android Auto Stories August 17, 2021

Google’s ambitions in the car led to Android Auto being redesigned a couple of years ago, mostly to positive feedback. However, the version of Android Auto on phone screens was meant to shut down at the time and has been on life support ever since. Now, that version has stopped working for some users.

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Yandex.Maps now includes Android Auto support, but only in Russia

Russia’s answer to Google is now branching out by bringing Yandex.Maps to your in-car Android Auto head unit.

Android Auto Stories August 12, 2021

Google’s Android Auto has introduced a handful of new features recently, and it seems another is around the corner. Recently, one Android Auto user spotted a new feature called “Media Picks.”

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Android Auto Stories August 2, 2021

Some Android Auto users have been missing the weather icon for months; Google working on it

Google’s big redesign to Android Auto a couple of years ago resulted in the removal of a quick weather icon. It was later restored, but some users mysteriously lost it again earlier this year.

Android Auto Stories July 29, 2021

Android Auto is getting yet another third-party navigation app in Gaia GPS. What’s the appeal of this one? If you’re a fan of getting off of the beaten path, it might just come in handy.

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