What is Android Auto? Everything you need to know about Google’s in-car technology

It might just make your car journeys that bit easier.

Last updated: 7 May 2018 - 9.28am

Driving can be a headache. You’ve got to programme your route into the satnav, find something to listen to on the radio, set up the hands-free function in case someone calls while you’re driving… And that’s before we hit the traffic.

Thankfully there is an easier way. Thanks to Android Auto, your phone can become the hub of your in-car system, able to control the radio, music, navigation and more. It’s your one-stop shop to a simpler driving experience.

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What is Android Auto?

It’s a piece of software developed by Google, which makes the Android mobile operating system for smartphones and tablets. It takes all of your phone’s capabilities – including music, navigation, communication and voice control – and routes them through the in-car system. That way, you can still communicate, navigate and use apps, all while your phone stays safely in your pocket.

What can it do?

Almost anything your phone can. You can use Google Maps to find your way to your destination, play your phone’s music through the car’s sound system, make phone calls and send or receive messages without taking your hands off the wheel, and control it just by speaking.

It can also run apps optimised for Android Auto, so you can expand your car’s capabilities no end.

Android Auto uses the dashboard-mounted screen, which can mirror what’s on your phone.

How does it work?

Android Auto

Plug your phone into the car and Android Auto will show compatible apps on the dashboard display. You can then tap and swipe through them as you would on your phone.

Do you have to plug in?

Not necessarily. Google has recently enabled wireless connectivity for Android Auto for users of its Pixel and Nexus smartphones. Just get in the car, and Android Auto will connect to your phone wirelessly over wi-fi, with no need to plug it in. At the moment, it only works with select JVC and Kenwood head units in the US, but hopefully it will be extended to more phones and in-car systems soon.

Which cars are compatible?

More than 400 models of car use Android Auto, including those from some of the world’s biggest brands. Audi, Aston Martin, Bentley, Citroen, Ford, Honda, Jaguar, Mercedes-Benz, Volkswagen and Volvo are all on board.

Can you install Android Auto on other models?

You can, by buying an after-market head unit. These are made by the likes of Kenwood, Sony, Pioneer and JVC.

Which phone do you need?

All phones running Android 5.0 Lollipop or newer are compatible.

Where is Android Auto available?

It’s available in 31 countries around the world. These are: Argentina, Australia, Austria, Bolivia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Germany, Guatemala, France, India, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Puerto Rico, Russia, Spain, Switzerland, United Kingdom, United States, Uruguay, Venezuela.

Outside of these areas, most of the features won’t work.

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