Android Auto Overview Updated May 21, 2021

Android Auto

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224 'Android Auto' stories

June 2014 - October 2021

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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 October 12

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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Ford will issue a fix for Android Auto call issues in a coming Sync update

Android Auto is a very useful way to handle calls, media, and maps on the go, but a variety of smartphone and car hardware often opens the door to bugs and issues. Recently, Google confirmed that Ford is working on a fix for call issues that Android Auto users have been experiencing for over two years.

Android Auto Stories July 26

Android Auto issues can stem from a faulty update or an issue on specific devices, and for the past couple of months, Samsung users have been reporting an issue where Android Auto would crash when the device was unlocked. Now, a fix has been confirmed to be coming soon.

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Android Auto Stories July 22

Given the scale that its services operate at, Google is a big user of phased rollouts to catch issues. It also operates beta tests for key apps, and Google is now officially operating a program for Android Auto.

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Android Auto Stories July 20

The latest Android Auto beta points to the app being able to automatically open itself on more cars’ infotainment centers.

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Android Auto Stories July 16

Earlier this year, Google announced that it would be bringing Assistant-based games to Android Auto. Now, it’s expanded further by adding a collection of touchscreen games from Area 120’s GameSnacks to play on Android Auto.

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Android Auto Stories June 30

Google is working to expand the footprint of Android in the car with a new native operating system, but it’s only in a few cars. One clever developer, though, has managed to port Android Automotive to a tablet.

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Android Auto Stories June 15

Alongside a bunch of other Android announcements today, Google is highlighting some recently-released Android Auto features. While several have been available for a while, one does stand out. Android Auto now has improved content navigation that lets you scroll by letter.

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Android Auto Stories June 8

Tesla is the king of the hill when it comes to electric vehicles, and a big point of where the company pulls ahead is with tech. Android Auto, though, has always eluded Tesla vehicles, but a proof-of-concept demo shows that it is possible.

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Android Auto Stories May 18

Widgets are already getting a big visual revamp as part of Material You and Android 12. Google is now bringing widgets to Assistant and considering driving-optimized ones for Android Auto.

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Google at I/O 2021 announced today that there are over 100 million compatible Android Auto cars on the road, while providing an update on growing support and new features like instrument cluster integration.

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Android Auto Stories May 7

Google’s Android Auto just picked up another update, and this time around, it seems to be addressing a longstanding issue. Android Auto is about to added support for Android’s Work Profiles feature.

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Android Auto Stories May 3

Android Auto is great for getting maps and music running in your car, but the vast majority of vehicles that support it also limit users to slow charging speeds. Now, one person has come up with a clever way to bring fast charging to essentially any Android Auto user.

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Android Auto bug pauses music when opening any app on connected phone for some users

Some Android Auto users have encountered a strange bug while using the platform recently. For reasons unclear, music playback is going on pause when opening any app on the phone that’s powering the Android Auto UI.

Android Auto Stories May 2

Android Auto Wireless expands to the 2022 Honda Civic, but only in ‘Touring’ trim

The Honda Civic is one of the most popular mainstream cars in North America, and soon, it’ll work even better with Android phones. After adopting Android Auto in its 10th generation of the Civic, the 2022 Honda Civic will turn things up a notch with the option of wireless Android Auto, though with a slight catch.

Android Auto Stories April 29

ChargePoint comes to Android Auto w/ support for finding a nearby EV charger

As electric vehicles take over, charging networks are a huge priority, but in the meantime, they’re still a little difficult to find. ChargePoint is one of the largest EV charging networks in the United States and Europe, and now, they’ve added support for Google’s Android Auto platform.

Android Auto Stories April 12

Google’s Android Auto has become an important tool for many users and, soon, it may introduce a new “Connectivity Troubleshooter” which could make it easier to figure out problems with your connection.

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TomTom AmiGo arrives on Android Auto as further third-party navigation option

Now that Android Auto has opened up the system to developers, we’re going to see a real explosion in the number of alternate navigation apps, the latest being that of TomTom AmiGo.

Android Auto Stories April 5

[Update: Now available] Android Auto gets its first third-party navigation app, Sygic

Earlier this year, Google finally opened up Android Auto to third-party navigation apps. Now, the first of those apps is finally available. Sygic has just added support for Android Auto and you can download it today.

In August of last year, Google announced that it would allow more kinds of Android Auto apps on the Play Store. Developers can now publicly release new navigation, parking, and charging apps for Android Auto.

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Android Auto Stories March 31

Android Auto has basically become a standard across new vehicles at this point, but some automakers have held out on the option for its customers. Now, a new brand is jumping in. Starting with its next model year, Porsche is adopting Google’s Android Auto.

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Android Auto Stories March 19

‘AAWireless’ dongle for Android Auto gets an unfortunate price increase due to CPU swap

As the first units are shipping to early backers, some unfortunate news has hit the popular “AAWireless” dongle that brings wireless Android Auto to more vehicles — it’s going to get a price increase.

Android Auto Stories March 17

Android Auto fix prevents audio from playing from the phone’s speaker

Google’s Android Auto sees its fair share of bugs, but following the release of Android 11, some new ones have popped up. Now, with a recent update, Google says it has fixed a bug that caused some users to have audio played through the phone speaker while using Android Auto.

Android Auto Stories March 9

Android Auto has been around for several years at this point and continues to evolve and improve with updates. However, most people are stuck with the wired version of the platform, missing the convenience of wireless. Good news, though — the clever AAWireless dongle is starting to ship this week.

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Android Auto Stories March 5

If you’ve ever wanted to run two apps simultaneously when using Android Auto, you might be excited at the possibility of a dedicated split-screen mode that now appears to be rolling out and available for select vehicles.

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Android Auto Stories February 23

Google’s Android Auto platform makes infotainment in your car easy, and it’s about to get a new feature. Soon, Android Auto will have games, but not the ones you’re probably thinking of.

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Android Auto Stories February 12

in 2019, Android Auto got a redesign that put a new coat of paint on old features, but didn’t really add anything new. Now, nearing two years from the release of that redesign, Google is giving Android Auto a powerful new feature — custom Assistant shortcuts.

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Android Auto Stories February 11

Google’s Android Auto has exploded in popularity over the past few years, and with competition from Apple, the platform has seen some big changes over the past couple of years. Following CarPlay’s addition of wallpapers last year, Google has now finally delivered the same functionality in Android Auto.

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After nearly a lengthy period of time being broken, then being officially unsupported by Google, Android Auto is getting back a useful feature. Google Assistant routines are finally working on Android Auto again.

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Android Auto Stories January 18

After announcing that a partnership with Google would bring Nest devices to SmartThings this year, Samsung is about to integrate with one of Google’s platforms. Alongside the reveal of the Galaxy S21 series, Samsung has revealed that SmartThings is coming to Android Auto.

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Android Auto Stories January 13

Last year, we found that Android Auto was working to let you add a bit of flair to your car’s entertainment system through wallpaper support. Ahead of that feature’s launch, Google has added a collection of car-related wallpapers with the latest update to the Android Auto app.

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Android Auto Stories December 14, 2020

The promise of Android Auto Wireless is a simple one — bringing the same useful software to a car’s display but minus the cable. Unfortunately, the vast majority of cars sold with Android Auto lack wireless functionality without an easy way to add it. That’s where the incredibly clever “AAWireless” steps in.

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Android Auto Stories November 11, 2020

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.

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Android Auto Stories November 4, 2020

Android Auto tweaks its Google Assistant UI yet again

Google has been giving its Android Auto platform quite a bit of attention as of late, including some adjustments to the look of Google Assistant. Now, yet another UI tweak is rolling out to some users with Android Auto showing the Assistant UI on the left part of the screen.

Android Auto Stories October 20, 2020

Ahead of the Play Music shutdown, Google has been working to add key functionality to the YouTube-based alternative, especially for free users. The YouTube Music app for Android Auto now works to play uploaded tracks.

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Android Auto Stories October 19, 2020

Although it is one of the last automotive manufacturers to add Android Auto to its vehicles, BMW is now set to bring the digitally-driven interface to approximately 750,000 cars with the iDrive 7 update.

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