You bought yourself a fancy car, eh? Well, since you’re reading this, I’ll assume everything is not hunky-dory (if it were, you wouldn’t be here!). I feel ya buddy! I’ve been in your place before so I know how annoying long introductions are, so I’ll skip the intro where I tell you how awesome Android Auto is.
In theory, Android Auto’s supposed to be relatively simple to set-up. However, like everything else in life, it often isn’t. Many manufacturers advertise AA (Android Auto) as a “big” feature, often charging you for it (like Jaguar/Land Rover’s “Smartphone Pack”). And you’d be quite disappointed if you just can’t make it work.
To get things working, follow the general process. We’ll show you how to solve common problems along the way. Note that this is meant to be universally applicable, but unfortunately, I don’t have access to every device/vehicle on the planet so I’ll be using a Galaxy S10 and a Range Rover Velar. If you have any vehicle specific questions (related to whatever vehicle you own) feel free to drop a comment and I’d be happy to look into it!
Know What Works
Before we do anything, check if your vehicle’s actually got Android Auto by takin’ a look at this. Found it? Good. Remember how I said it doesn’t always come standard? The only way to know if you car’s really got AA is to either check with your dealer or look through various menus ‘till you find it.
Note: as a certain reader with a Bentley Continental GT pointed out, the “GT” version of the Continental has no support for AA, offering only Apple Carplay. How rude?!
Common places include, Telephone, Devices, Screen Mirroring, Driving Assistance, Bluetooth (apparently, some Toyotas have it there) and Navigation.
Finding it there’s just half the battle! Next you need a compatible device. Mirroring your screen ain’t cheap, so you’ll need a sufficiently capable phone.
All S-Series Samsungs (as well as the Note-series) running Android 5.1 and above play along great with AA, along with all devices in Google’s Pixel lineup. If your device was not mentioned above, you’ll have to try a more generic search; look for the following (use this app):
- *Android 6.0 (or higher)
- *A Quad-core processor running at 2Ghz (or higher)
- At least 3GB RAM (unless you want it crashing every time!)
- *8GB internal storage
- *A-GPS, Accelerometer, Magnetometer, Gyroscope (they’re all sensors BTW)
- LTE Cat 4 internet connection (that means 4G for all you dum-dums! JK)
- 2500 mAh battery (this isn’t a requirement, but in my experience anything lower and you’ll have a dead battery in minutes)
- *300 DPI screen density and an HDR capable display (again, not requirements, but most devices with high DPIs and HDR have good GPUs)
- Adreno 605 or equitant GPU (or higher) supporting OpenGL-ES 3.0
Unfortunately, if your device doesn’t meet the above specs, you won’t have much fun using AA. If you’re a persistent fellow, see if your device has all the features marked with an asterisk (*). But remember that I am in no way responsible for any damage you cause to your device, vehicle (and/or life!).
BTW, Samsung J-series smartphones (along with other such cheap devices) are known to have issues including (but not limited to) severe overheating, boot loops, frequent reboots, instability and GPS failure reported after long drives. Use these devices at your own risk (even if they meet the above criteria).
Download the App
I know this step seems rather unnecessary, but you’ll be surprised at just how many people give up here.
Follow this link to go to the Google Play Store and….well, you know the rest!
But life isn’t always that easy. Your device might support AA, your car might be support it, but your neighborhood may not be OK. By neighborhood, I mean country. And by country, I mean that AA is pretty limited, geographically. If you live outside the US or the EU (still includes he UK, mind you), you’ll have to get the APK and install it manually.
If you’re wondering, here’s a list of countries where AA is offficially supported:
- Costa Rica
- Dominican Republic
- New Zealand
- Puerto Rico
- South Africa
- South Korea
- United Kingdom
- United States
Here’s the link to an excellent external repo housing almost all APKs. Simply download the relevant APK and install it on your phone and you’re good to go!
If you’re confused about what file to get, try the ARMv7a variant. Of course, you can always use that app I mentioned before (Open app > System).
(If that link doesn’t work, try this one instead)
Now that you know everything works, it’s time for the big marriage.
You might not even have to connect it with a wire at all! As an added bonus for folk with high-end smartphones and executive vehicles, Google announced wireless Android Auto. Yep, you read that right; no more plugging flimsy cables into obscure slots! Because not that many cars support it, you’ll have to check with your dealer to know if Wireless AA is available.
But for everyone else, find a good cable. Why I stress this is ‘cause most problems arise ‘cause of faulty wiring (and not just in your car either!). Use the one that came with your phone or buy a new one if it looks like your granny’s gramophone cable. Here are some cables we tested our self:
- Micro USB
- Type C
- Pixel Phones
- Pixel accessory USB-C to USB-A cable (Works well with Pixel phones)
As the reader with a Peugeot 3008 GT pointed out, USB-C cables are not yet supported on Peugeots and as such you’ll need to use that converter thingy that came in the box if you have a recent Galaxy (S8 and up). Sometimes, even that may not work.
Now that you’ve got everything, plug it in!
Your car will automatically detect your phone and ask for conformation to launch Android Auto. Say “I do” by tapping “Yes”. If no such screen shows up, try manually opening AA on your car.
Pro tip: close any applications (Recent Apps > Clear All), and be sure to exit AA on your phone before connecting it to the car.
Common issues at this stage include AA not opening up at all, loss of connectivity and constant crashes.
All three are caused by problems on your phone’s side with the exception of the middle one, which can be caused by a faulty cable.
To resolve said issues, check how much memory (RAM) is currently available. AA needs at least a gigabyte of free memory to function.
To free-up some RAM try restarting your phone, clearing recent apps, installing an app like Greenify or maybe even removing that game your kid installed on your phone! (LOL!)
Jokes aside, you can also try disabling MirrorLink (if supported. Check your applications list at Settings > Apps > All Apps), re-plugging your device and restarting your vehicle
If all else fails, try using a different device (one with a Micro USB port as they yield more results) and updating your car’s firmware (via your dealer; NEVER upgrade it yourself).
By now, I hope you’ve figured everything out and you’re at this screen rackin’ your brains out tryin’ to figure out how to get back to your car’s system (press that little speedometer next to the headset on the bottom panel).
To give you the grand tour:
- Returns to Google Maps (navigation, specifically!)
- Home (returns to the page displayed above)
- Back to your car
- Voice search
- Turns your car on and off! 😉
Clicking on a notification card opens the respective app, and sliding removes them.
Additionally, AA is fully integrated with Google Assistant. Meaning you can do this:
Yeah, voice typing’s still a work in progress but it’s kinda cool being able to “talk” to your car.
That’s it folks. Hope your Android Auto related problems are all fixed and you’re on your way to being a careful driver.
If you have any thoughts, suggestions, problems, questions etc. fell free to drop a comment and we’d be happy to help you out.