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BySarah Chaney/May 12, 2023 6:09 pm EST
Android Auto is a car-friendly interface for Android OS with its own array of apps and features specific to driving. With Android Auto, you have easy — often hands-free — access to navigation, media, and communication apps.
It's important to note the differences between Android Automotive OS and Android Auto. Android Automotive OS is an Android-based infotainment system that's built directly into vehicles. A car with Android Automotive OS is essentially a standalone Android device that can download apps directly rather than via your smartphone.
Older cars won't have Android Automotive OS built-in, but users can still take advantage of the driver-optimized benefits of Android Auto, as long as they have an Android phone and the Android Auto app. Then, you can connect your smartphone to your car via Bluetooth or a USB cable to view the Android Auto setup on your car's display.
If you haven't tried out Android Auto, you're missing out! Whether you connect through your Android smartphone or your fancy car with Android Automotive OS built-in, here are 10 great tips that will help you get the most out of Android Auto.
Try out Waze instead of Google Maps
Google Maps changed the navigation game on its way to becoming the most popular mobile map option for Android users. However, there's been a huge competitor catching up to Google Maps for over a decade — Waze.
As a crowdsourced navigation app that depends on its users to provide real-time data on traffic, hazards, and general road conditions to the app and other users, Waze will change the way you use Android Autofor the better. Though Google Maps is a fantastic navigation tool, it can't yet compare to Waze when it comes to avoiding speeding tickets or knowing real-time slowdown data.
In our hands-on with Waze in Android Auto, we found the experience to be pretty slick and intuitive. There are minimal distractions in the user interface, full integration with the systems in your car, and big on-screen elements that are easy to interact with while you're driving. We also loved how easy it is to report stuff you see to Waze. You choose an overall category — like Traffic, Police, Crash, Hazard,Map Issue, or Camera — and then choose a subcategory to narrow down your alert.
Since launching on Android Auto, Waze has encountered bugs, freezes, and limited functionality at times. Luckily, Waze is owned by Google and continues to receive updates so its users can share real-time info with other users without complication. Waze Beta users are receiving support for Android Auto's Coolwalk update, which should help with the aforementioned issues, but all Waze users should see the benefits once the service sees a widespread rollout.
Configure your conversation notifications for less distractions
Android Auto lets you mute those distracting notifications that can interfere with your safe driving experience. Considering that Google put so much emphasis on using Android Auto to create a safer driving environment, it was surprising that the company waited so long to add this feature. Nevertheless, users are now able to silence notifications, which can be a dangerous distraction while you're driving.
For years, Android Auto users would automatically hear notifications as they arrived. Then, you had the option to hear non-sensitive notifications read out to you. This is still a feature today, but it's a bit more advanced. You can hear messages while you drive with Google Assistant on a message-by-message basis or turn on the Auto Read function to have Google Assistant read messages automatically without voice prompts from you.
You can also respond to messages using Google Assistant, which limits the need to check your screen while you're driving. However, responding to messages in any way distracts you from driving, so for the safest drive possible, try completely silencing your notifications.
Customize the apps list in your Android Auto dashboard
No one ever leaves their smartphone apps the way they are when they first get their phone or download new apps. People remove the apps they don't use or don't need and make their favorite apps easily accessible. You should do the same for apps in your Android Auto dashboard.
On the dashboard, you'll find the app launcher button, which looks like a square made of nine dots. This opens up all of the apps you have downloaded, and the icons here are large enough to easily spot and tap while you're driving. You can customize how the apps appear in your Android Auto launcher to make it easier to find your most used apps without scrolling.
Within the Android Auto mobile app's settings, find the Customize Launcher option. Here, you can sort your apps alphabetically or manually arrange them by tapping and holding the dots beside each app's name. In addition, many of your apps can have a custom shortcut attached that makes your life easier while you're driving. A few common shortcuts include calling someone specific or navigating to the closest coffee shop — all with a single tap.
Remember to use Google Assistant and its convenient shortcuts
It's a given that Google Assistant is one of the most useful tools in the Android Auto setup — you just have to remember to use it. You can use voice commands with Google Assistant in your car just like you would at home with your smartphone.
Google gives plenty of examples of how to use Assistant commands in your car to navigate, play music, call a friend, and more. Here are a few things you can ask Google Assistant to help you out with:
"Navigate to work."
"What's my next turn?"
"Set the car temperature to 70 degrees."
"Turn on the seat heater."
"Play the latest episode of [podcast name]."
"Play some music."
"Read my messages."
"Call [contact name]."
You can alsocreate custom Google Assistant shortcuts to launch commands without needing to say "Hey, Google" first. You could create a shortcut that can start navigation to work, call your friend, resume your audiobook, or kick off your driving routine. For another driving mode option with Google Assistant, you can say the keyword phrase "Hey Google, let's drive." This is great if you prefer to set up a routine and use a single voice command rather than tapping on the screen.
Choose a wallpaper that fits your personality
One of the easiest ways to make your Android Auto dashboard feel personalized is to change how it looks. Though you can't fully customize your wallpaper, Android Auto gives you 15 unique options to choose between.
The dashboard's default wallpaper since the 2020 redesign is now officially called Mountains. Of course, there are 14 other options to choose from, many of which reflect the textures or items you'd see in cars, like leather or a brake rotor. There are a few outdoor wallpapers, like a forest or a road with headlight trails, as well as some other decorative designs with unique patterns that don't resemble anything specific.
When it comes to how to change your wallpaper in Android Auto, the process couldn't be simpler. In Android Auto on your car's dashboard, you'll open the Settings app, scroll down and tap Choose Wallpaper. From there, browse through your options and select the one that makes you happiest!
While you're thinking about how you want your Android Auto dashboard to look, consider enabling dark mode. Android Auto received dark mode functionality in 2019, with Google explaining that since most dashboards are made of darker materials, this mode should make it easier to see the screen while driving. Regardless of the reason behind it, dark mode lovers rejoiced with this decision as it's easier on the eyes and gives the dashboard a sleeker look.
Enable Android Auto to kick on while your phone is locked
Android Auto users were frustrated for years that they had to unlock their phones to connect to their cars. Some phones wouldn't even connect automatically when the phone was unlocked. You'd have to head into the app, toggle your Bluetooth off and back on, or try some other troubleshooting techniques to get your phone to connect before driving.
Now, Android Auto can be set to start automatically, even if your phone is locked. This means when you're ready to head off to work or school, you won't have to worry about planning for extra time in your morning routine to unlock your phone and set everything up.
To enable this feature, you'll need to head into the Android Auto app on your smartphone where you can see general settings. Scroll down until you see Start Android Auto While Locked, and toggle this on. With this feature enabled, access to your phone features will be available on the car screen while your phone is locked. This feature still isn't perfect, but it works well enough for most phones right now.
Try out the Weather & Radar app
In 2020, Android Auto added local weather icons to the status bar. This made it easy to see local weather stats at a glance. You wouldn't see a full weather forecast, but you'd be able to see the current temperature outside and an icon indicating general weather conditions. For example, if it was sunny outside, you would see a sun icon paired with an 80-degree Fahrenheit temperature reading.
These local weather icons looked similar to the weather widgets that used to exist in Android Auto's interface prior to a huge redesign from Google. Unfortunately, despite tons of users appreciating the local weather icons, they've disappeared yet again in a recent update of Android Auto.
Though not exactly the same, there is a potential alternative. The Weather & Radar app is the first integrated full-weather app for Android Auto, which is able to provide detailed satellite information about the weather wherever you are. On the radar, you'll see different precipitation types by color, including blue for rain, pink for snow, and salmon for freezing rain. Yellow circles indicate lightning strikes, and you can see the current temperature and precipitation intensity as well.
Add addresses to your calendar appointments for easy navigation
Google Calendar is the go-to calendar app for many Android users because it is automatically built into their phones. Over the years, cool new features have been added, like creating and viewing tasks and forming more robust event cards.
One of the best features of Google Calendar is the ability to add addresses to event cards. This helps you keep addresses to a new doctor or a one-time work event organized in one area with the rest of the event info. Then, you can tap on that address in Google Calendar to launch your Google Maps app and navigate straight to your event.
In 2020, Android Auto finally brought back access to Google Calendar appointments, which means you can use your car's display to figure out where to go rather than through your phone. Through your car's display, you can see events from your personal calendar and use one-touch access to navigate to an address or dial a phone number on the event card. You can't add any new appointments, but you can see your existing appointments or have them read out to you.
If you're constantly traveling to new addresses, this feature is super helpful. You have to manually add the address to a Google Calendar event card and make sure Google Calendar is integrated with your Android Auto setup, but it's worth it. Throughout the day, all you have to do is press the navigation icon next to your next event, and directions will pop up immediately.
Personalize your music settings for a more enjoyable ride
Good music is crucial to an enjoyable car ride, whether you're commuting to work or taking a long road trip. Luckily, Android Auto makes it easy to listen to music with your favorite media app or with voice commands via Google Assistant.
Your most recent media app will show up on your car's display, but it's helpful to set your default app if you use voice commands. This ensures that if you ever say, "Hey Google, play My Favorites playlist," it'll automatically know which media app to open and start playing music from. You can set your default music service by heading to your Google Assistant settings, selecting Music from the menu, and choosing your default music provider out of all the ones you have downloaded.
You can select a default service for podcasts and radio stations as well by scrolling down to the Podcasts and Radio sections, respectively. Then, instead of saying, "Hey Google, play [podcast name] on [platform]," you can just say, "Hey Google, play [podcast name]."
Android Auto also has a setting that allows you to toggle whether your music starts automatically when you start driving. If you want more manual control when you enter your car, leave it disabled, or you can enable it if you know you want music to play every time you get in your car, and it'll start up whatever you were last listening to on your default platform.
Check out the games Android Auto has to offer
There are quite a few practical uses for Android Auto, and it generally makes your driving experience safer. However, Android Auto can be pure fun too. There are games you can play through Android Auto on your car's display to help the time pass by faster.
You can only play available games when your vehicle is in park. This seems like it'd be a given, but Tesla infamously allowed its users to play games while the car was moving. Only passengers were supposed to play, but there was no way to truly regulate this, making it one of Tesla Cars' worst video game innovations.
Compatible games from Google's GameSnacks website can be played on touchscreen car displays as long as your smartphone or car runs Android 9 or newer. There are over 100 bite-sized games, including card games, jigsaw puzzles, golf games, and racing games. If you're in an electric car that needs to charge or are just bored while waiting to pick someone up, playing games through Android Auto is a great way to pass the time.
Google showcased an updated Android Auto UI, codenamed Coolwalk, during its I/O developer conference last year. It featured a new split-screen layout capable of simultaneously showing navigation, music playback controls, and more.How do I get the most out of my Android Auto? ›
- Take Advantage of Google Assistant. ...
- Download Android Auto-Compatible Apps. ...
- Organize Your Android Auto App List. ...
- Specify a Default Music Provider. ...
- Organize Your Contacts Ahead of Time. ...
- Tweak Other Android Auto Options.
- In your phone's settings, search for “Android Auto.”
- Once you find the setting, tap it and you should find yourself in the Android Auto app.
- Scroll down and tap Version 10 times.
- Hit OK.
To control Android Auto in compatible cars, you can talk to Google. Simply follow these steps: Choose one of three ways to start: Say "Hey Google", press and hold the voice command button on your steering wheel, or select the microphone . Wait until you hear the beep.What is Start Head Unit Server Android Auto? ›
The DHU enables your workstation to act as an Android Auto head unit that emulates the in-car experience for testing purposes. Once you've installed the DHU, you can test your Android Auto apps by connecting your phone and workstation via USB. Your phone will behave as if it's connected to a car.What is special in Android Auto? ›
Android Auto brings apps to your car display so you can focus while you drive. You can control features like navigation, maps, calls, text messages, and music. To get more information about your car's compatibility with Android Auto on your car display, contact your vehicle manufacturer. Apps.What is Android Auto APK? ›
Android Auto is an app developed by Google that provides a safe driving experience for Android users.Why does Android Auto disconnect so easily? ›
Check not just for dirt and dust at each end of the cable, but also for breakages in the casing and insulation. Such problems can be the cause of disconnections. You should also check your phone's USB port, as well as your car's.Why is developer mode hidden on Android? ›
By default, the developer options in Android phones are hidden. This is because they're designed for use by developers who want to test various functionalities and make changes that may impact the phone's performance.How do I open hidden settings? ›
Instead of deep diving into your Android phone's convoluted settings, you can use a simple dialer code to access your device information quickly. All you have to do is open up your phone's dialer app and type *#*#4636#*#* into it. Once you've entered the code, your phone's testing menu will pop open.
You can speak commands to the Google Assistant, such as:
- Hey Google, set timer for [amount of time]
- Hey Google, turn on flashlight.
- Hey Google, when was the Empire State Building built?
- Hey Google, who created Google?
The Voice Access app for Android lets you control your device with spoken commands. Use your voice to open apps, navigate, and edit text hands-free.How do I make custom voice commands on Android? ›
- Say, “Hey Google” to activate Google Assistant.
- Next say, “Assistant settings.” An Assistant settings screen will appear on your phone.
- Tap See All Assistant Settings.
- Scroll down and click Shortcuts.
- Tap the name of the app you want to create a shortcut for.
What are the requirements to run Android Auto on my car display? An Android phone running Android 8.0 and up with a data plan. A car or stereo that's compatible with Android Auto. A high-quality USB cable.What is Android Auto integration? ›
Android Auto is a system that integrates your phone into your car's entertainment system. It can mirror the phone's screen on the car's display screen, allowing drivers to control their phone using voice commands or the car's touchscreen to minimize fumbling with a phone while driving.What is the difference between Android Auto and Android head unit? ›
What Is Android Automotive? Android Automotive is pre-installed on your vehicle's head unit. It runs on your vehicle independently, and you don't need an Android smartphone to operate it. But Android Automotive is based on the same open-source operating system you can find on any Android device.What is Android system WebView? ›
Android System WebView lets applications display browser windows in an app instead of transporting the user to another browser.What is Apphub on Android? ›
The App Hub is a central place to easily browse, connect, customize, and manage all of your 3rd-party app integrations.What are the new functions of Android Auto? ›
The new Android Auto experience is here
The new design prioritizes three important goals for drivers: navigating where you're going, communicating with friends and family, and playing your music or podcasts. Maps is now closer to the driver's seat so that you can see where you're going at a glance.
- Google Play Books & Audiobooks. 4.7star.
- Messenger. 4.1star.
- Pandora - Music & Podcasts. 4.1star.
- Android Auto. 4.1star.
- Spotify: Music and Podcasts. 4.4star.
- WhatsApp Messenger. 4.3star.
- Spotify for Podcasters. 4.1star.
- iHeart: Music, Radio, Podcasts. 4.6star.
Thankfully, the new Android Auto 9.2 update makes dark mode independent of your phone app. The Car UI will have its toggle and won't change if you flip the switch on your phone. There are some other vague bug fixes and improvements, but none were specific.How do I make my Android Auto wireless? ›
- Make sure your vehicle is parked.
- Tap the gray ANDROID AUTO icon on the infotainment screen.
- Pair/connect your phone to the infotainment system using Bluetooth®. †
- Follow the prompts on the screen and on your phone to start.
- You will be asked to accept Terms before using the feature.
You might experience issues such as connection failures, audio glitches, app crashes, or voice recognition errors. Another drawback of Android Auto is that it doesn't support some of the native features of your phone, such as wireless charging, split-screen mode, or notifications from non-supported apps.How do I clear cache on Android Auto? ›
- Open the Settings app.
- Go into Apps.
- Tap on See all apps.
- Find and select Android Auto（In newer devices, the app is moved to the system and might appear as com. google. android. projection. ...
- Go into Storage & cache.
- Tap on Clear storage and Clear cache.
If your phone or car is not compatible with wireless Android Auto, you'll have to run it via a wired connection. The set of features you can use via both wired and wireless connections are the same. In fact, a wired connection may be beneficial for long trips since it also charges your smartphone at the same time.Can you mirror on Android Auto? ›
Open your phone and download the Android Auto app. Plugin the Android auto dongle into the car and connect it to your phone using a USB cable. Connect your device to the infotainment system by permitting Android auto access to your phone. This will mirror the screen phone to the car.What is difference between MirrorLink and Android Auto? ›
As mentioned, MirrorLink doesn't support any ONE operating system (OS), it has been programmed to support all common OS. This means, unlike Android Auto and Apple CarPlay–where the icons on the car's screen look like bigger versions of those on your handset display–MirrorLink icons look a bit more generic.How do I mirror my Android to my car screen? ›
On your Android device, go to Connection Settings > MirrorLink, and tap MirrorLink. Step 3. To start mirroring your device's screen, turn on the "Connect to car via USB" option on your device screen. This will display your Android device's screen on your car's display.What is USB debugging? ›
What is USB debugging? USB debugging is often used by developers or IT support people to connect and transfer data from an Android device to a computer. While this feature is useful, a device isn't as secure when connected to a computer. So that's why some organizations require you to turn this setting off.How do I unlock developer tools on Android? ›
Enable Developer options
Tap the Build Number option seven times until you see the message You are now a developer! This enables developer options on your device. Return to the previous screen to find Developer options at the bottom.
Dynamic System Updates (DSU) is a system feature introduced in Android 10 that does the following: Downloads a new GSI (or other Android system image) onto your device. Creates a new dynamic partition. Loads the downloaded GSI onto the new partition. Boots the GSI as a guest OS on the device.How do I find hidden stuff on Android? ›
- Visit your app drawer section.
- Tap on the three dots that are present at the upper-right of the device screen.
- Click on the home screen settings. It will navigate you to the Hide apps menu; tap on it.
- Here, you will see the hidden apps that are not showing in the app list.
It's called the System UI Tuner and it can be used for customizing an Android gadget's status bar, clock and app notification settings. Introduced in Android Marshmallow, this experimental menu is hidden but it's not difficult to find. Once you get to it, you'll wish you knew about it sooner.How do I unlock advanced settings on Android? ›
Advanced settings are accessible via the Settings button in the sidebar. Open the sidebar, scroll down to reveal the Settings button, tap the Settings button, select the Options tab, then scroll down to show the Advanced section.What does *# 0 *# do? ›
When you enter *#0*# into the phone's dialer, the device enters service mode and brings up a diagnostics menu. From this screen, you can view and run multiple diagnostics to test device hardware like buttons, sensors, and cameras.What is AI for voice commands? ›
What is voice AI? Voice AI is a conversational AI tool that uses voice commands to receive and interpret directives.What is a voice command device? ›
Voice Command Devices – What are they? a device controlled by means of a voice. removes the need to use buttons, dials and switches, consumers can easily operate appliances without hands or while doing other tasks.How do I unlock my Android phone with voice command? ›
On your Android phone or tablet, say "Hey Google, open Assistant settings." Or, go to Assistant settings. Under "All settings," tap Lock screen. Turn Allow Assistant on lock screen on or off.What are the Google Assistant commands? ›
- "Hey Google, stop" - or just "Stop" if you have a timer or alarm sounding.
- "Hey Google, play [song title] by [artist] from Spotify."
- "Hey Google, help."
- "Hey Google, turn [up/down] the sound."
- "Hey Google, what's the weather like [specify time or day]?"
In the Chrome Android app, you can create custom voice command shortcuts for opening a new tab or opening a new Incognito tab.
- Select Configuration > Custom Commands View. ...
- Do one of the following: ...
- For Name, enter a name that identifies the custom command.
- For Command, enter the command that is executed on a server. ...
- Under Command Associations, specify what the custom command can run against.
- On your Android phone or tablet, say "Hey Google, open Assistant settings." Or, go to Assistant settings.
- Under "All settings," tap General. Preferred input.
- Choose your preferred input. To say your question or command: Tap Voice.
- On your computer, go to IFTTT.com.
- At the top right, click your username New Applet. If This.
- Search for "Google Assistant v2".
- Click Google Assistant v2 .
- Choose a trigger.
- Complete the trigger fields.
- Click Create trigger.
Waze introduced Coolwalk support in the beta program shortly after Google's January announcement. In some ways, this was rather unexpected, as most users would normally expect a Google-owned app to be fully prepared for the introduction of a Google update on day one.Why is the weather not showing on my Android Auto coolwalk? ›
The weather information is no longer available in the new Android Auto interface. Google's promotional videos showed the current temperature and forecast displayed in a dedicated card alongside the rest of the apps on the dashboard. Coolwalk was originally announced by Google in early 2022.How do I get my Android Auto wireless to connect automatically? ›
- Make sure your vehicle is parked.
- Tap the gray ANDROID AUTO icon on the infotainment screen.
- Pair/connect your phone to the infotainment system using Bluetooth®. †
- Follow the prompts on the screen and on your phone to start.
- You will be asked to accept Terms before using the feature.
Android Auto is fantastic tool when you're out on the open road. Google's answer to Apple CarPlay takes your car's infotainment display and turns it into an interface for your phone. That means you can access all your favorite apps in much safer (and easier) manner.What map app works on Android Auto? ›
Android Auto will give you voice-guided navigation, estimated arrival times, live traffic information, lane guidance and more with Google Maps or your favorite navigation app.Is Waze or Google Maps better for Android Auto? ›
Both services can detect road conditions from the number of users on the road, but Waze is the one who does something about it. Both apps will display traffic obstacles or hazards, but Google Maps won't change your route according to that, like Waze does.Can Android Auto use Waze instead of Google Maps? ›
Android Auto brings Waze to your car display, and primarily focuses on navigation. To get more information about your car's compatibility with Android Auto on your car display, contact your vehicle manufacturer.
You'll be able to see the current weather conditions (satellite and radar) on the WeatherRadar, along with the RainfallRadar showing only the precipitation intensity. It's zoomable and will update automatically with your location.Where does Android Auto get the temperature? ›
Unfortunately, no workaround is known to exist, especially because the weather forecast in Android Auto is powered by server data provided by Google itself.Can I use Android Auto without USB? ›
While you can definitely use Android Auto without a USB, you will still need a USB for the initial setup. After you've connected your phone to your vehicle, you can then wirelessly use your Android to connect to your favorite apps.Why does Android Auto not connect sometimes? ›
If you can't connect, try unplugging the USB cable and reconnecting it again. If possible, try restarting your car's infotainment system, then try to connect again. If Android Auto has previously worked with your device and car, it is likely that the problem is with your cable.Is wired Android Auto better than wireless? ›
In theory, sticking with the cable that comes in the box of the phone is the best way to go, but many users found out the hard way that everything can change overnight. All without any modification on their sides, that is. As such, sticking with Android Auto wireless is theoretically the more reliable alternative.What is the difference between Android system and Android Auto? ›
It's important to understand how Android Automotive relates to the overall Android ecosystem: Android Automotive is Android. Android Automotive is not a fork or parallel development of Android. It is the same codebase and lives in the same repository as the Android shipped on phones, tablets, etc.What is the difference between Android Auto and Android Auto for phone? ›
Despite their similar names, Android Auto and Android Automotive are very different. While Android Auto is just a mobile app, Android Automotive is an entire operating system.