What is Android Auto?

Even if you don’t live in one of the 26 states (and Washington D.C.) that prohibit you from using your cellphone while driving, it’s still just a bad idea. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that 3,522 people died in distracted driving incidents in 2021. A fair chunk of those are likely the result of people taking their eyes off the road to read their texts. Thankfully, if you’ve got an Android smartphone, you’ve got a better and safer way to interact with your phone in the car. It’s called Android Auto, and it helps you keep your eyes on the road by reading your texts for you, among many, many other things.

What exactly does Android Auto do?

Android Auto (currently on its 12th generation) is a system created by Google that allows you to mirror apps from your Android Phone to your vehicle’s infotainment system, allowing for hands-free use. It also integrates Google Assistant as well as many other Google apps like Google Maps, Google Play Music, YouTube Music, and third-party apps like Spotify, WhatsApp, Discord and Skype. It even supports Apple Music. Google's official site for Android Auto has links to various mapping, communications and media apps that work with its program.

How to connect Android Auto in my car?

Android Auto can be connected to your vehicle in two ways. The first is with a USB cable. This has the benefit of letting you charge your phone while you drive. Second, you can connect your phone wirelessly via Bluetooth, which has been technically supported since 2018, but wasn’t widely available until later. Now, the majority of vehicles and phones support wireless connectivity.

Which cars are compatible with Android Auto?

Like Android’s rival Apple and its CarPlay phone integration, the list of vehicles that support Android Auto is always growing, particularly as more manufacturers begin using the Android Automotive operating system for their vehicle infotainment systems. Google’s Android Auto website keeps a comprehensive list of vehicles and stereos that support the system, making it super easy to know if you can get in on the fun, particularly if you have a car that’s not brand new.

If you want to know which new cars in 2023 come with Android Auto, we can help you out with a list.

  • Acura: Integra, MDX, RDX

  • Alfa Romeo: Tonale

  • Audi: A3, A4, A5, A6, A7, A8, E-Tron, E-Tron GT, Q3, Q5, Q7, Q8

  • BMW: 2 Series, 3 Series, 4 Series, 5 Series, 7 Series, 8 Series, iX, i4, X3, X4, X5, X6, X7, Z4

  • Buick: Enclave, Encore GX, Envision

  • Cadillac: CT4, CT5, Escalade, Lyriq, XT4, XT5, XT6

  • Chevrolet: Blazer, Bolt EV, Bolt EUV, Camaro, Colorado, Corvette, Equinox, Malibu, Silverado 1500, Silverado 2500, Silverado 3500, Suburban, Tahoe, Trailblazer, Traverse

  • Chrysler: Pacifica, 300

  • Dodge: Durango, Hornet

  • Ford: Bronco, Edge, Escape, Expedition, F-150, F-250, F-350, Mustang Mach-E

  • GMC: Acadia, Canyon, Hummer EV, Sierra, Terrain, Yukon

  • Honda: Accord, Civic, CR-V, HR-V, Pilot

  • Hyundai: Elantra, Kona, Santa Cruz, Santa Fe, Sonata, Tucson, Venue

  • Infiniti: Q50, QX50, QX55, QX60, QX80

  • Jaguar: E-Pace, F-Pace, F-Type, I-Pace, XF

  • Jeep: Compass, Grand Cherokee, Grand Wagoneer, Wagoneer

  • Kia: Carnival, Forte, K5, Niro, Rio, Seltos, Sorento

  • Lexus: ES, GX, IS, LS, LX, NX, RX, RZ, TX, UX

  • Lincoln: Corsair, Navigator, Nautilus

  • Maserati Ghibli, Levante, Quattroporte

  • Mazda: CX-50, CX-90, Mazda3, MX-5 Miata

  • Mercedes-Benz: C-Class, EQB-Class, EQE-Class, EQS-Class, GLB, GLC, GLE, S-Class

  • Nissan: Ariya, Frontier, Titan

  • Porsche: 911, Cayenne, Panamera, Taycan

  • Ram: 1500, 2500, 3500, ProMaster

  • Toyota: BZ4X, Corolla, Crown, Grand Highlander, Highlander, Mirai, Prius, RAV4, Sequoia, Tundra, Venza

  • Volkswagen: Arteon, Atlas, Golf, ID.4, Jetta, Taos, Tiguan

Why is Android Auto so useful?

Aside from the safety factor and the familiarity of using apps you already know and trust, one big benefit of Android Auto is that it's always the same, regardless of what car you get into. For example, if you get out of your 2022 Honda Civic daily driver and want to load up your 2019 Ford F-150 for a weekend of camping, you'll have the same seamless infotainment experience in both vehicles. It's also extremely handy if you and a significant other share a car.

What are the best Android Auto features?

There are a ton of really great baked-in features that make Android Auto awesome, but here’s a short list of our favorites:

  • It will automatically resume media when you get back in your car

  • It can read and answer messages from lots of apps like Facebook, Instagram, Signal, Telegram and WhatsApp

  • It works with tons of maps apps including Google Maps, TomTom Go, Waze (which is baked-in to Google Maps too) and Samsung Maps

  • Google Assistant, which runs Android Auto, will interact with your smart home devices, so you can ask it to open your smart garage door or turn on lights inside your house

Can I add Android Auto to my older car?

While most new vehicles come equipped as standard with Android Auto integration, many older vehicles never had it. If you have an older car that you wish was a little more modern, the good news is that adding Android Auto is usually a pretty simple affair thanks to the wide world of aftermarket car stereos.

Most of these units are what’s known as “double DIN” sized, which should suit most vehicles with the appropriate installation kit. The installation process varies from vehicle to vehicle but if you’re handy, it’s not usually too difficult. If you’re not, then professional installation is the way to go. Pricing for a decent Android Auto-compatible stereo starts at around $170 before installation, so it’s not going to break the bank to make your old car feel a lot more modern.

Can I use Android Auto in my country?

Android Auto unfortunately isn’t available in all countries. It’s available in a ton of them, don’t get us wrong, but because of issues with the Google Play Services providing location information, some users can’t use the system without finding some kind of hacky workaround. Google launched with support for five countries initially, added an additional 36 countries to the list of compatible locales back in 2020, then another six more in 2021 for a total of 47. Google has a list of countries where Android Auto is available here.

When did Android Auto debut?

Android Auto made its official debut in 2014 at the Google I/O developer conference, but the official app wasn’t released to the public until 2015. In 2016, Google enabled Android Auto to run directly from the phone via an app, rather than on the vehicle’s hardware, though this was discontinued for phones running Android 9 or later in 2022 in favor of a more direct integration with Google Assistant.

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