Android auto in test: features, apps, car manufacturers

How android auto integrates android smartphones into the car and these apps can use them! Testing android auto in numerous vehicles (with videos). Difference to android auto on smartphone and its successor google assistant driving mode. Plus: this is android automotive.

So sieht Android Auto im Frühjahr 2021 in einem BMW 340i mit BMW OS 7 aus. Hier die Navigation mit Google Maps

Android auto is google’s solution for integrating android smartphones into the infotainment system of a modern car. It has long since replaced the older mirrorlink and is a competitor to carplay, with which apple integrates its iphones into the car.

In this article we present all aspects and variants of android auto in detail and give an overview of the makers and supporters of android auto. We tell you in which vehicles of which car manufacturers you can use android auto, explain the functional principle as well as the advantages and disadvantages of android auto and, above all, test android auto continuously in new vehicle models of different manufacturers. So in this article you will find detailed reviews of android auto in the VW bus, audi A4, seat ibiza connect, skoda rapid spaceback, in the E-class of mercedes and in the honda civic, among others. We also present retrofit solutions for existing cars.

Table of contents

These improvements are coming in 2022

google was not present at CES 2022 in las vegas, but nevertheless used the occasion to present the new features for android auto coming in 2022 .

Android smartphone as a car key

For example, certain models of BMW can already be unlocked, locked and even started with certain smartphones of the type samsung galaxy ( currently probably only the S21 ) or google pixel (pixel 6, pixel 6 pro). This is reminiscent of bmws implementation of apple carkey – open BMW with iphone and drive away aka BMW digital key – and indeed you have to hold the android smartphone at a certain point on the driver’s door, as is currently the case with BMW digital key. The technical basis for this is ultra wideband (UWB) technology. in the course of 2022, an important improvement will be that you will no longer have to take your android smartphone out of your pocket (with BMW digital key, this is currently only possible in the high-priced inext; for comparison: any tesla can be unlocked with a smartphone without having to take it out of your pocket). In addition, the "digital car key" should then also be able to be passed on to other smartphones. the number of smartphones and cars that support this is expected to grow over the course of 2022.

Fast pair: android smartphone and car fast pairing

Selected cars from BMW and ford should already support fast pairing: this should allow the smartphone to be paired with the car with a tap of the finger.

Retrofit: use android auto wirelessly

if your infotainment system does not support the wireless connection between smartphone and car for android auto, you should be able to upgrade this function with the motorola MA1 wireless adapter for 89,95 euro. To do this, you simply plug the adapter into a USB port on the infotainment system.

More apps for android auto and android automotive

Android auto is also expected to get new apps. Among other things lyft. For cars that even have android automotive installed (for example in the polestar ), there are additional apps such as sygic for navigation or chargepoint for charging e-cars. Later there will also be an option to watch videos from youtube in the parked car. This will initially be the case in certain volvos.

For some volvo vehicles in particular, there will be an enhanced google assistant that can be used to adjust settings in the car. For example, you should then be able to switch on the lane departure warning system by voice command or ask google when the next maintenance is due. Also available, initially only for some specific volvo models, are the new "remote actions" at your disposal. They make it possible that you can control the heating, unlock the car or check the battery level via a voice command to google assistant.

These android auto variants are available

Currently there are:

Android auto : mirrors smartphone displays/apps and partly on the display of the infotainment system in the car; that’s mainly what this article is about

Android auto for smartphones: Usable as an app stand-alone only on the smartphone without involving the vehicle’s infotainment system display; outdated, but still supports android 11

Google assistant driving mode: for smartphones from android 9; successor to android auto for smartphones; replaces android auto on smartphones binding from android 12; has a new interface. This takes over the basic structure of android auto with its navigation bar at the bottom edge. Even with google assistant driving mode, two apps can be used at the same time, for example music player and google maps. The google assistant driving mode only supports portrait format for the display.

Android automotive : full operating system for the car’s entire infotainment system, for example in the polestar and selected volvos

1. The makers: google, open automotive alliance and the car manufacturers

Android auto comes from google and offers an app display optimized for use in the car. The open automotive alliance was founded at the consumer electronics show (CES) in early 2014 specifically for android auto. The goal of the participating car companies as well as chip manufacturer nvidia and google is clear: android is to be integrated into the car.

2. Requirements for the use of android auto

2.1 android auto on the car display

you need an android smartphone and a compatible vehicle. Here, the smartphone screen and compatible apps are displayed on the screen screen of the vehicle mirrored.

Smartphone-side: you need to install the android auto app on the android smartphone. The app is free, it can be used on the smartphone from android 5.0 must be installed (but google recommends android version 6 or higher).

on the car side: the infotainment system of the car must also support android auto. Support for android auto is included in a surchargeable equipment package from the respective car manufacturer. At audi for example this package is called audi smartphone interface , at volkswagen app-connect, at seat full link and at skoda smartlink.

Android automotive vs. Android car

Android auto forms the basis of android automotive . Google has been developing android automotive together with intel since march 2017. This is an android variant that is intended as the operating system basis for the infotainment system, air conditioning control and instrument panel in cars. An automaker that chooses android automotive can still customize the operating system in detail to meet its needs.

Android automotive runs as a stand-alone operating system in the car. unlike android auto, it does not require an android smartphone for operation. The polestar 2 electric car, for example, uses android automotive: polestar 2 tested – whisper-quiet 408-hp e-car challenges tesla model 3 to a duel . Fiat Chrysler is developing its uconnet 5 infotainment system on the basis of android automotive. general motors is also interested in using android automotive.

With android automotive, google maps takes up a large part of the screen while driving – reminiscent of the tesla screen.

2.2 android auto for smartphone s

You need an android smartphone and ideally a suitable cell phone holder.

With android auto, Google supplied an app that independent from the car manufacturer’s infotainment system installed in the car and without the display can be used in the car. So you put the android in the smartphone cradle of your car and then start android auto. If a bluetooth hands-free system is installed in the vehicle, android auto starts automatically on the smartphone after pairing.

Android Auto stand-alone only on the smartphone: left the Home screen, right Google Maps

After that, you can use the usual functions of android auto (see below), which has large buttons and a clear layout for it on the smartphone screen. This stand-alone operation of android auto is intended for vehicles that do not have a modern infotainment system or for vehicles from car manufacturers that do not support android auto, such as tesla, as well as for older vehicles and classic cars.

However, the sound output is then of course only through the speaker of the smartphone and not through those of the car, if android auto is used without a link to the built-in infotainment system.

Android car stand-alone only on the smartphone: Left Google Play Music, right telephony

Prerequisite for android auto for smartphones android at least version 5.0 and at most in version 11 on the smartphone. The scope of functions of android auto for smartphones is identical to android auto in conjunction with the infotainment system of the car: so google maps . Google play music, telephony, spotify, pandora etc. Operation via voice command from google now.

Android car stand-alone only on the smartphone: left the settings, right the voice control

2.3 google assistant driving mode replaces android auto for smartphones

You need an android smartphone and, ideally, a phone mount that fits it.

The google assistant driving mode requires at least android 9. google assistant driving mode replaces android auto for smartphones, from android 12 even mandatory.

3. Connection of android auto between smartphone and car

For a long time, the connection between vehicle and smartphones was only possible via USB cable (android auto uses bluetooth for telephony, more precisely: the hands-free profile HFP. All other functions, such as the transmission of images and videos, operating events or all audio data (except for telephony), such as the microphone input for google now, flow via the USB cable. The USB connection encrypted).

But in the meantime, wireless connection is possible in more and more vehicles. On the smartphone, android 11 is a prerequisite for wireless connectivity. Wireless android auto aka android auto over wifi uses a wifi connection to transfer data between the car and the smartphone. This corresponds to the wireless carplay approach. Telephone calls, on the other hand, are made via bluetooth. For android auto to work wirelessly, however, it must have WLAN via the 5 ghh connection use! This 5-ghz WLAN must also meet the regulatory requirements of the EU.

But there is one difference to wireless carplay: in order for the android smartphone and the infotainment system in the car to recognize each other, you have to connect the smartphone to the car once via USB cable. This is not necessary with wireless carplay.

4. Operating concept, functionality, appearance and advantages

As soon as the connection between the android smartphone and the car is established, the apps available for android auto – i.e. those certified by google – are mirrored on the car’s screen. android auto apps on the vehicle display have larger buttons than on the smartphone screen, and unimportant and distracting elements have been removed. The sound that comes from music apps or web radio, for example, is output by android auto via the car speakers.

Android auto thus forms the interface between the android smartphone and the car’s infotainment system. The android smartphone can then no longer be operated directly, the smartphone screen is switched off.

home screen: the home screen presents itself with a standard dark mode since august 2019. It displays the android car compatible apps with large, colorful icons. At the bottom of the screen is the navigation bar with app launcher (for easier access to apps) and notification center for messages and calls. After pressing an icon, however, the corresponding application does not always start immediately. With spotify it is so, but if you press on the icon for google calendar, then the google assistant starts instead, so that you can do the rest of the way through your calendar by voice control. The google assistant can also be accessed via the corresponding microphone icon on the far right of the navigation bar.

In the navigation bar, some apps like google music or even spotify can put their own controls for play, pause, skip. This allows the driver to make entries in the respective apps without always having to open the entire app first, if the music app is running in the background and the screen is taken up by navigation, for example.

You also always have direct access to google assistant and the home button via the navigation bar. The notification center (accessible via the ring icon) shows the most recent messages and calls and enables an immediate reaction to them – for example, a callback or playing a voice message. We present android auto in detail in the version from august 2019 here.

Same look and feel everywhere: no matter what car you’re in – android auto looks and works the same everywhere you go. So you don’t have to change when you change the car, you will always find the familiar user interface. Android users quickly get to grips with android auto, because they have the functions they are used to on their android smartphone. It’s just that everything is displayed in a somewhat larger and simplified format so as not to distract the driver. This is the main advantage of android auto.

Tip: turn off night view with developer mode

Once you ve activated the developer mode, you can stop the automatic switching to the night view.  The screenshot shows the developer mode of Android Auto on a HTC One M9

Problem: by default android auto switches the screen of your car to night mode when the car turns on its headlights. Sometimes it is difficult to see details on the dimmed display, for example on the google maps.

Solution: you can switch off the vehicle-controlled switching between day and night mode. And for example let android auto always run in day mode.

To do this, proceed as follows: start the android car app (this also works without a paired vehicle). click on the "three dashes" menu on the top left and then open "info. Now quickly tap "about android auto" several times in a row. This will start the developer mode. Now go to the three dots in the upper right corner and open "developer settings. Click on the second entry from the top there: day/night. In the window that then opens, make the desired setting. then exit the developer mode again in the "three dots" menu in the upper right corner.

Touchscreen or voice control: the driver operates android auto via the touchscreen in the center of the dashboard or via voice control with google assistant.

Steering wheel buttons and control knobs: in some cases, you can also use the car’s control buttons and steering wheel buttons to operate android auto functions such as google voice control. you start the google voice control with a longer press the voice control button in the steering wheel, while a short press starts the proprietary voice control of the car manufacturer. the volume up/down buttons in the steering wheel are usually also available for volume control in android auto.

However, the entire computing power comes from the android smartphone, which is connected to the infotainment system via USB cable. So the android’s battery is unlikely to be charged further while driving because it has to power the smartphone. in addition, the bluetooth coupling between the smartphone and the infotainment system is also in use for telephony. In addition to the computing power and the battery capacity of the android, its mobile phone contract is also required, because all the traffic runs of course over the connected smartphone.

5. functions: navi, telephony, whatsapp, music

navigation: navigation with google maps is certainly a highlight of android auto. While this online navigation solution guides you very accurately thanks to the precise traffic situation information, it usually obtains its map material continuously from google’s servers, which can strain the monthly data volume of your mobile phone contract if you use google maps frequently. In non-EU countries, roaming costs are also a threat.

google maps will not work in remote areas with poor or no cellular connectivity. In our test, however, this was only rarely the case and only for a very short time, and it did not significantly hinder navigation. You can avoid all these problems by navigating offline with google maps and downloading the map material you need for your route to your smartphone in advance via wifi.

you can directly enter your navigation destination with the voice control of android auto: "how is the way to munich?". immediately starts android auto google maps navigation, tells you the approximate time of arrival taking into account the traffic situation, tells you if there are traffic jams on the road and displays the route on the map. You can then start driving immediately. during navigation there are solid voice announcements and of course the good traffic situation information from google maps is available.

Google search: very useful is the excellent google search, which gives much more hits than the pois from the navi. This will help you find the nearest gas station or supermarket in no time at all. When asked "where can i go for a coffee in parkstadt schabing now?? Does android auto show a list of cafes and hotels where you can have a hot drink. To each of these hits you can be navigated immediately by google maps. but you can also find the nearest garage by voice command.

Hands-free device: telephony via the android smartphone should also be one of the most important functions of android auto. The easiest way to do this is via voice input: simply speak the desired telephone number in one go, without interruption. Google assistant usually understands the number without error and immediately starts the call. Or you can name the contact you want to call from the phone book of the smartphone. The receiving and sending of whatsapp messages or SMS also supports android auto. Dictating and sending SMS messages also works with the help of voice control.

Music: you can also get music from different sources like google play music (with a 90 day trial for google play music), amazon music or spotify and audiobooks from stitcher. You stream the songs from the google servers via your android smartphone to android auto and then play the music through the car’s built-in speakers. The music collection on the android can also be browsed while the car is stationary.

Already with android 3.8 brought google improvements for music search and messaging. Read more in this message.

Other features: by voice command you can also ask android auto for the weather report – a female voice reads out the weather report – or for the next appointments from the calendar. You can also have a new appointment entered via voice command. You can’t send mails from the car via voice command, and you can’t open a browser either. You can send messages via whatsapp.

Google had added its calendar app back to android auto in august 2020 as the verge reports . You can now navigate directly from the calendar app of android auto to the meeting point of your next appointment. The calendar app and the associated navigation option was already part of android auto until 2019. But with the major update for android auto that was rolled out at the time, google removed the calendar app or replaced the screen display with an exclusively spoken output via google assistant.

Apps post-install: but you can also post-install many other apps for android auto, for example pandora, tune-in radio, skype or ICQ. But watch out:

6. Google only allows selected apps for android auto

If an android app is to be used on the android car screen, google must certify it to do so. It must be programmed so that it does not distract the driver while driving. Sometimes an app approved for android auto can only be operated when the vehicle is stationary.

Offline navigation apps like here we go – formerly here maps – (free, with real time traffic information) or sygic car navigation (various in-app purchases for the maps and additional information like traffic situation data) or tomtom you could not use with android auto for a long time. These apps store all their map material on the android, so that at most traffic situation information still rushes through the mobile radio connection while driving.

In april 2021, however, that changed: since then, google has allowed third-party apps for navigation (for example, from sygic and tomtom), parking and power charging for android auto. app developers should find here all the necessary information to adapt their apps accordingly.

A concrete example of a navigation app compatible with android auto since april 2021 is the free navigation app tomtom ami go . Read more here. But also the paid variant of the tomtom navigation app is available for android auto since may 2021, read more here: from now on the app tomtom go navigation is also available for android auto.

Among others, there are google maps, google play music, pandora, spotify, stitcher, tune-in radio, kik, skype, whatsapp and ICQ for android auto. facebook messenger is also compatible with android auto: you can have incoming messages read aloud to you and respond directly to them using voice commands. Also, with the touch of a finger, you can send a standard reply to the sender of a facebook messenger message, telling them you’re currently driving and therefore unable to chat.

The Facebook Messenger lässt sst now also under Android car use. And by voice command operate

Video apps like youtube do not support android auto at all for security reasons.

7. Android auto available in over 30 states

Android auto can be used in about 36 countries on this earth. Specifically, if android auto is available in a country, this means that the android auto app is available for installation in google play for users from that country. However, google assistant cannot necessarily be used for android auto; in fact, the list of countries where google assistant is available for android auto is much shorter.

Android car in the selection menuü of the Skoda

8. These car manufacturers support android auto

These car manufacturers offer android auto as an equipment option in at least some of their vehicles: abarth, alpine, alfa romeo, aston martin, audi, bentley, citroen, fiat-chrysler, ford, honda, hyundai, jaguar, jeep, kia, maserati, mazda, mercedes-benz, mitsubishi, nissan, peugeot, opel, renault, seat, skoda, smart, subaru, suzuki, toyota, volkswagen, volkswagen nutzfahrzeuge (VWN), volvo.

The BMW group wants to offer android auto from July 2020 , as BMW announced in December 2019. And this in the wireless android variant: read more in this message : bmws get new functions via software update .

9. Retrofit solutions for android auto

9.1 supplier solutions

Gradually, the first audio and entertainment accessory manufacturers are bringing retrofit solutions for android auto to market. This allows you to replace the factory-installed car radio in the vehicle and then use android auto. So sony has such a retrofit solution for android auto and carplay in the offer. The sony XAV-AX100 and the sony XAV-AX200 . The XAV-AX100 has a 6.4-inch display with a resolution of 800 x 480 pixels, and voice control is also available.

Sony XAV-AX100

With the alpine digital media station ilx-F903D "halo9" you can retrofit carplay, android auto, DAB+ and a touchscreen in vehicles with 1-DIN and 2-DIN radio installation slot. The device is available for less than 740 euros on amazon, but some buyers have expressed considerable criticism of this solution.

one retrofit solution not yet available in germany is thehboard ultraslim carplay aka carplay plus A aka portable carplay/ android auto/ car life from the taiwanese company orient enterprises. Unlike many other aftermarket solutions, this device does not plug into the radio slot where the radio/infotainment system is located, for example. Instead, it attaches to the windshield with a suction cup just like a traditional navigation device (PND). So you don’t have to remove or install anything, you don’t have to tinker, and you can switch this carplay/android car solution between different vehicles or take it with you in rental cars at any time.

The manufacturer quotes a price of 300 US dollars. The portable carplay/ android auto/ car life is however not available on amazon, but for example only available via alibaba. The manufacturer told us at CES 2020 that they basically want to offer the device on amazon as well though. However, it would still take some time until then.

9.2 solutions of the car manufacturers

9.2.1 mazda offers android auto for retrofitting

Mazda offers android auto for new cars ex factory and for used cars for retrofitting since july 2019. The prerequisite is that the infotainment system mazda MZD connect is installed in the new or used car. Mazda first introduced MZD connect with the mazda 3 in 2013 – so by then android auto should be able to be retrofitted.

The conversion to use android auto and apple carplay involves a software update and the installation of a new usb hub. The smartphone is then connected via cable to the new USB hub.

You can operate android auto as well as all other MZD connect functions while driving via the multi-commander on the center console or by voice control. Operation via touchscreen, on the other hand, is only possible when the car is stationary, or at speeds of up to 8 km/h. mazda has always had this special feature with its MZD connect infotainment system.

Costs: the cost of integrating android auto and carplay (support for both systems is only available in the package) is 300 euro as an option for new vehicles and 220 euro as a retrofit kit plus installation costs. A concrete example: for a mazda 3, year of construction 2014, the installation of the retrofit kit comes to a total of 350 euro. According to the information available to us, mazda dealers are currently luring customers with somewhat more favorable installation offers. installation takes 1.5 to 2 hours for a mazda 3, bj. 2014.

9.2.2 VW

If you drive a relatively new volkswagen, android auto and carplay might be unlocked later on. According to the ADAC, this is possible in most standard infotainment systems in vehicles from the modular transverse matrix (MQB) from golf 7 onwards. So polo 6C, passat B8, skoda octavia 5E and superb etc. Activation takes place in the authorized workshop. Prerequisite is a radio with touchscreen.

Only by VCDS the unlocking of golf 7 and consorten is not possible, so you definitely have to go to the workshop. This only changes with the golf 8: here, customers can also initiate the paid activation directly from the car, as long as a credit card is stored. You can read more about this here at the bottom under the keyword "WE upgrade". audi, BMW and mercedes also offer similar retroactive unlocks.

10. Android auto: tests in the vehicles

So much for theory, now let’s get to the practical test: this is how well android auto works in our test vehicles from audi, BMW, honda, volkswagen, seat, skoda and many other manufacturers.

10.1 wireless android auto in BMW m340i

In BMW vehicles with the latest BMW OS 7, you can connect an android smartphone wirelessly to the infotainment system of the bmw. So, similar to 2016 with apple carplay, BMW is also pioneering wireless connectivity with android auto.

You simply place your android in the smartphone tray, where it is also inductively charged – and you’re done. You can then use android auto right away without the hassle of plugging in cables.

of course, the prerequisite is that you register your android smartphone with connected drive and activate android auto once. This works with a samsung galaxy S21 ultra wireless, not even for the initial pairing (setup) between galaxy S21 and BMW m340i is a USB cable required. Important: you will need an internet connection for google assistant to set it up.

After that, we can conveniently use android auto on the 10.25-inch control touch display. Where besides the touchscreen of course mainly the voice control via google assistant is used for operation. Typical uses of android auto are:

Navigation with google maps. Read also: google maps in test – free navigation with exact traffic situation information

Music from spotify, google play music etc. And play audiobooks for example from audible

Send messages via whatsapp or through another messenger.

incoming whatsapp messages are shown on the android auto control display

Weather report, news ticker, google calendar etc.

10.2. Android auto in the VW bus

10.2.1 android auto in the current VW bus T6.1

Android auto you can in the current VW bus T6.1 connect only by cable. Wireless android auto, on the other hand, is not supported by the VW bus. Otherwise android auto works as usual.

10.2.2 android car in VW bus T6

We tested how well android auto works in the VW bus T6 (note: the current bus model is the VW T6.1 who has an improved infotainment system.

Home screen from App Connect

Connection via USB cable (and bluetooth)

As android smartphone we connect the HTC one M9 via the USB cable to the USB socket of the infotainment system of the T6. In discover media plus, you can also select in the settings whether mirrorlink or android auto should be started as soon as the car’s infotainment system detects a connected android smartphone. The infotainment system should then start android auto under the app-connect menu by itself after plugging in the usb cable.

Navigation with Google Maps

If another smartphone is already paired with the discover media plus via bluetooth, this bluetooth connection will be interrupted. After that, bluetooth-based phone calls with the hands-free system of the T6 are no longer possible via a smartphone other than the one paired via USB. All phone calls now go through the phone app in android auto. For data transfer android auto not only uses the USB cable, but also bluetooth as mentioned above.

this means: despite the usb cable, you can’t turn off bluetooth on the android smartphone if you want to use it for phone calls. When android auto is started, a bluetooth connection is established between the vehicle infotainment system and the android smartphone, if it does not already exist.

If bluetooth on the smartphone is switched off and you then connect the smartphone to the infotainment system via android auto and USB cable, android auto switches on bluetooth on the smartphone.

The steering wheel buttons of the T6 can be partially used for operating android auto. So you can turn the sound softer and louder with it. However, to start voice control from android auto, you need to press the microphone icon on the top right of the discover media screen. The voice control button on the steering wheel and next to the discover media instead starts the voice control built in by VW.

POI search in Google Maps

Parallel operation no problem

While android auto is running, you can still use other functions of the discover media plus, for example its radio with DAB+, which plays music in the background while it guides you on the screen, for example google maps as navigation.

Gas stations in the vicinity of our VW bus

One of the highlights is certainly google-maps-navigation. As on the smartphone, this online navigation system also guides you reliably to your destination in the VW bus. Unlike on a smartphone, android auto’s google maps knows where you are thanks to the data from the wheel sensor, even in tunnels with poor gps reception. And based on the traffic situation data from the numerous android smartphones on the roads, google maps also predicts your arrival time pretty accurately and warns you of traffic jams and other traffic obstructions while you’re driving.

Google Maps guides you directly to the gas station

Also a good POI search is integrated. For example, you can search for gas stations in your area and then be guided there directly. It is best to enter navigation destinations using voice control. This worked well in the test. Google quickly calculates possible routes and traffic conditions, and even tells you the estimated time of arrival, including whether there is an obstruction on your route.

Making phone calls with Android Auto

you can make phone calls just as easily using voice control. Just press the icon on the top right of the screen to start voice control and say the phone number. The number can be recorded in one go. This worked well in the test.

Making phone calls with Android Auto

in the communication app there are also call lists and your contacts available. And of course they can also check SMS and dictate. With the latter, however, shipping did not work in the test.

Annoying: when the radio is running, the navigation announcement is spoken in parallel, so the radio is not turned down. You have to listen carefully to understand the navigation instructions. It looks different when you want to start a phone call under android auto, then the radio is automatically muted.

Problems with android auto in the VW bus

Although we had selected android auto as our preferred system in the discover media, the discover media always started mirrorlink for a few days, which we could not understand. Suddenly the discover media rebooted while driving and then recognized our smartphone and paired it via android auto. The problem that android auto did not start, did not occur again afterwards.

Entertainment with Android Auto

In addition, android auto interrupted the current connection to our smartphone two to three times for no apparent reason. The discover media plus did not recognize our HTC one M9, although it was still connected by cable. When we drove off again the next day, android auto recognized our smartphone again and worked without problems. According to volkswagen, the original usb cables from HTC, among others, are supposed to cause such problems. If necessary, you should try a different USB cable if you also have this problem.

Conclusion on android auto in the t6: useful, but somewhat unreliable

Android auto is basically a useful extension of the infotainment system discover media plus in the T6. In particular, the navigation solution google maps is a treat. However, the connection with android auto should always work reliably and on the first try, and there should also be no sudden interruptions of an existing connection. volkswagen nutzfahrzeuge should still improve here. That this can also be done better is proven by carplay for the iphone. So we had no problems in the test, never disconnected and also no pairing problems.

The huge display: The right part of it displays Android Auto

10.3 android auto in the mercedes-benz e-class without touch

Daimler also installs android auto in the e-class of 2016. You connect an android smartphone to the usb port 0 in the front of the center console in the e-class.

Android auto particularly benefits from the impressive 12.3-inch/31.2 cm screen in the e-class. Because of the enormous screen size it is easier to find the currently active menu item. In the e-class, just like in the audi A4, the large touchscreen is missing, so with android auto in the e-class you have to select the desired menu item with the comand controller on the center console: by turning and pressing it. A simple tap on the screen icon does not work in the E-class due to lack of touchscreen.

Android car

This increases the risk of distraction somewhat, because the driver first has to look at the screen to see where the cursor is currently positioned in order to be able to select the desired icon with the comand controller. However, the google voice control is also available, which makes the operation of android auto much easier.

Mercedes installs a high-end infotainment system of the extra class in its new e-class on request. The highlight is the two huge 12.3-inch displays that show on-board instruments such as the speedometer and the infotainment system. In addition, the system supports both apple carplay and android auto to connect the smartphone to the car. Nevertheless, there are also some points of criticism. We took a closer look at the system.

apart from the problem of the missing touchscreen, daimler has managed to integrate android auto well. Particularly noteworthy is the extensive integration of the controls on the steering wheel, which is reasonably coherent and thus differs pleasantly from the chaos of some other car manufacturers.

Android Auto: Navigation with Google Maps

With android auto, you can use the steering wheel buttons on the right to start a phone call with your smartphone, for example. Similarly, the voice control button to the right of the steering wheel works to launch google now. The smart touchcontrols, however, are without function with android auto. The home button to the right of the steering wheel takes you back one level. With the steering wheel buttons to the left of the airbag, "louder/quieter" can be used as well as the volume control on the center console.

Conclusion: all in all, we were able to use android auto in the E-class solidly.

10.4 android auto in the audi A4 without touch

In the 2016 audi A4, android auto is available under the menu item audi smartphone interface (surcharge: 400 euros). The audi smartphone interface is also available for example in the Q7, TT, A5 and Q2. It is functionally equivalent to app-connect from volkswagen, smartlink at skoda and full link at seat. audi has decided not to use mirrorlink because of its lack of ease of use and poor functionality.

Android auto presents itself in the audi A4 without touch capability. Instead, you operate android auto via the MMI controller on the center console and via google voice control.

Point of interest search

Due to the lack of a touchscreen, however, android auto cannot be operated quite as reliably as in a vehicle with a touchscreen. You always have to look very closely at the 8.3-inch screen in the center of the dashboard to see which button is currently active.

Telephony with hands-free üvia the paired smartphone

Then you can use the MMI controller to make the selection. To do this, turn the MMI controller until you have highlighted the desired button and then press the touchpad on the MMI controller. the steering wheel buttons of the audi are partially available for android auto: a long press on the steering wheel button to turn on voice control starts google voice control (a short press starts audi’s own voice control) and the volume control buttons in the steering wheel also work for android auto. The volume control on the center console also works.

Conclusion: apart from the missing touchscreen, android auto works just like in other cars with touchscreens. Google maps is available as a solid navigation solution as usual, and telephony also works well. But you can tell that android auto was developed by google for touchscreen systems. android auto can be operated more intuitively with the touch function on the display. We definitely miss the touchscreen.

10.5 test: android auto in the skoda rapid spaceback and the superb

Android auto can be found in the skoda rapid spaceback with amundsen infotainment system and in the skoda superb with columbus infotainment system under the menu item smartlink. As usual, android auto requires a bluetooth connection for telephony in addition to the usb cable connection. If this is not available, android auto prompts the user to turn on bluetooth.

Start screen of Android car

Navigation with google maps worked solidly in android auto. For example, google maps not only guided us to the selected addresses, but also showed us a gas station in the area. The google voice control also did what it is supposed to do. However, it can only be used meaningfully with a good mobile radio connection to the google servers.

As before, the number of apps available for android auto is manageable. In our skoda, only telephony, google maps, google play music, voice control and the weather report were available. The apps installed on the HTC one M9 like deezer, spotify or tune-in were not shown to us to launch.

Gas station search with Google Maps in Android Auto

Inconsistent: with android auto the right steering wheel button of the skoda starts the telephony of android auto (and not the telephony menu of the built-in amundsen infotainment system). However, the left steering wheel button for voice control starts the skoda’s built-in voice control and not google voice control.

Telephony in Android Auto

After we had once significantly lowered the volume in android auto, it remained for a while on quiet, although we had long since turned the dial back to louder. Only after some time did android auto output the sound louder again.

10.6 test of android auto in the seat ibiza connect (with video)

We tested android auto in a seat connect with an HTC one M9. Full link is the name of seats interface for the integration of carplay for iphones and mirrorlink as well as android auto for android smartphones. In all three cases, the smartphone is connected to the seat’s infotainment system via USB cable or lightning. seat has installed the necessary USB socket below the screen in the depths of the center console.

Navigation with traffic information

Any existing bluetooth connection between another smartphone and the seat system is automatically terminated as soon as the USB connection is established. For android auto to work properly, a good mobile connection is required, at least UMTS, better still LTE.

Google Local Search for POIs

When you connect an android smartphone via USB cable, you have to decide whether you want to establish a mirrorlink or android auto connection. If you opt for android auto, you will look at a tidy and clear home screen. it’s not as visually appealing as the carplay home screen, but it’s much clearer than the mirrorlink screen. The screen on the smartphone is switched off.

Detailed video on android auto in the seat ibiza connect:

android auto lets you pair an android smartphone with a vehicle’s infotainment system. How this works and what it brings, you will learn in this video.

Clear screen

In the menu bar at the bottom of the screen you will find the icons for navigation, telephony, for the home screen, access to google music and other music apps and for special car apps. In the upper right corner, in turn, you will find the microphone icon to start voice control. Alternatively, you can also start the voice control with the corresponding steering wheel button in the seat. This procedure corresponds to that of carplay.

Voice control should be the preferred means of operating android auto, keeping hands on the steering wheel at all times and allowing the driver to look ahead at what is happening in traffic. Seat has integrated google voice control very harmoniously into the infotainment system.

While android auto is running, you can continue to use the permanently installed radio. The seat’s hands-free system is also available. The phone call via the bluetooth paired smartphone also still works.

If you activate the google voice control, the infotainment system automatically switches the seat radio to silent. As soon as the voice control is finished, the radio gets louder again.

The android auto navigation software is the excellent google maps navigation. You can directly enter your navigation destination with the voice control: "how is the way to hamburg?"as an example. Immediately starts android auto google maps navigation, gives you the approximate time of arrival taking into account the traffic situation, tells you if there are any traffic jams on the way and fades in the route on the map. You can then drive off immediately. During navigation, there are solid voice announcements and, of course, the good traffic situation information from google maps is available.

Cool is the excellent google search, which delivers much more hits than the pois from the navi. Not only can you find the nearest gas station or supermarket in no time, but you can also find unusual destinations such as a certain car upholstery shop – in case your car needs new seat covers. Each of these destinations can be immediately adopted for navigation.

you have in fact two voice controls and two navigation systems in the car, just like with apple carplay. seat has solved this differently with mirrorlink, where there is only one navi, namely the permanently installed one.

Just as easy to start a call. you simply speak the phone number or name the contact you want to call from the smartphone phonebook. Even the dictation and sending of SMS works with the help of voice control.

Voice control can do even more

Of course, the voice output also tells you the weather report or the birthday of a historical figure and names the next appointments from the calendar. You can also enter a new appointment by voice command. android auto and apple carplay don’t differ much in any of these features.

Google Play Music

Music: google play music test subscription

Under the music section you will also find a 90-day trial access for google play music. You stream the songs from the google servers via your android smartphone to android auto and then output the music through the car’s built-in speakers. You can also use other music streaming services like amazon music.

Conclusion: not pretty, but solid

Android auto worked solidly in the seat connect ibiza without any problems. Thanks to the usual good google maps navigation, you can even save the 400-euro surcharge for the permanently installed navigation system. That offers not even real-time traffic information from the Internet, but only the inaccurate TMC. google maps navigation is much more powerful.

Android auto is more reliable and safer to use than the small mirrorlink. However, android auto does not achieve the appealing look of apple carplay. but android auto and apple carplay have the potential to make the expensive infotainment systems of the car manufacturers obsolete ex factory.

10.7 android auto in the VW amarok

In the VW amarok pickup truck, you will find android auto under the app connect menu item, as is customary in the volkswagen group. Together with the competing smartphone interfaces carplay and mirrorlink.

Thanks to the touchscreen, you can basically operate android auto well, but the small 6.3-inch touchscreen proves to be a disadvantage. On a 10-inch screen like the BMW 7 Series or a 12-inch screen like the Porsche Panamera, the driver can hit the buttons more easily, see more details – especially important in navigation – and can also see additional information like the navigation map next to the carplay home screen. The amarok can’t keep up with that.

Apart from that you can use android auto in the VW amarok without any problems. This is also how various physical buttons work, such as the volume up/down buttons in the steering wheel and the volume control below the screen. You start the google voice assistant with a longer press on the voice control button in the steering wheel, while a short press starts the voice control of VW.

Android Auto in VW Amarok

Conclusion: android auto in the pickup truck

VWN (volkswagen nutzfahrzeuge) has solidly integrated android auto into its amarok pickup truck, without any enthusiasm for the implementation. The screen is simply too small for that. But if you want to use your android smartphone via android auto in the amarok, you can do so.

10.8 android auto in the opel

Opel offers android auto as part of the infotainment system navi 900 intellilink in the opel astra. Under the menu item projection, the user will find both carplay and android auto on the intellilink home screen. It works the same in the opel as in the other vehicles we tested.

10.9 T-roc with android auto

Volkswagen had on 23. August 2017 unveiled its new SUV based on the golf. This compact SUV, known as the T-roc, also supports android auto.

10.10 android car in VW golf VII

Volkswagen also offers apple carplay, android auto and mirrorlink in the golf VII under the menu item app-connect as before. Nothing has changed in terms of the operating concept: as before, you operate android auto primarily via the touchscreen and also with the help of voice control from google assistant.

In addition to touchscreen and voice control, some steering wheel buttons in the golf also work with carplay. A long press on the voice button launches google assistant, a short press launches VW voice control.

Android Auto plays for example music from Googke Play Music if available

Thanks to the responsive 9.2-inch touchscreen, android auto can be reliably operated in the VW golf. As usual, google maps is used for navigation and google play music for example to play music. But compared to our last test, no significant new features were added.

Even if android auto doesn’t look quite as appealing as apple carplay, there’s little to criticize about the basic functions of android auto. A long press on the voice control button in the steering wheel starts google assistant, and we can get started with a voice command: "where can i go for a coffee in parkstadt schabing??", i want at 8.30 o’clock know,while I’m moving on the A9 in the heavy traffic in the direction of munich. within seconds, android auto shows me a list of cafes and hotels where i can get a hot drink in parkstadt schwabing. I can be navigated to each of these hits immediately by google maps.

Google Maps displays traffic jams accurately

"how is the weather in munich?", I want to know afterwards. Here, too, google assistant answers immediately, but this time it doesn’t display a selection list on the screen, instead the woman’s voice reads me the weather report.

The search for warm coffee works flawlessly

Then I ask google where VW garages are in the area. Here, too, google immediately shows me a list of nearby VW garages on the screen.

All the time a DAB radio station is playing in the background, which the discover pro is playing. During voice input and output, the radio is automatically turned down and then immediately turned up again. The interaction between the radio of the discover pro and android auto from app-connect works absolutely smoothly.

Now I want to start a phone call via android auto. So I say, "call XXXXXXXXXX.". The many Xs stand for a cell phone number. I can say the number in one go without interruption. Google assistant understands the number without error and immediately starts the call. The phone function of the discover pro doesn’t work that well: we can’t say the phone number in one go, but are interrupted several times by the voice control, so we have to say the number several times.

During the above activities, google maps guides me to my destination: the IDG editorial building in parkstadt schwabing. navigation works with the usual precision of google maps: voice instructions in sufficient numbers, timely turn-by-turn directions and, above all, the accurate traffic situation data with fairly precise prediction of arrival time. The map also shows a small lane assistant when i get off the freeway. And the traffic situation google maps also signals me in color. The voice output of google maps can be switched off at any time.

Notice: as soon as android auto navigation is running with google maps, discover pro navigation is cancelled.

What doesn’t work though: we can’t get android auto to send an email from the car via voice command. android auto can’t do that. Just as we can not open a browser. But let’s be honest: this should not be possible while driving anyway for reasons of traffic safety.

Conclusion: android auto is in the VW golf VII (update / facelift) especially for basic functions such as navigation, telephony and music listening a powerful alternative to the permanently installed infotainment system. android auto can easily compete with apple carplay in terms of functionality and leaves mirrorlink far behind.

10.11 android auto with sensus connect in the volvo V90

The touchscreen of the sensus connect infotainment system in the volvo is 9 inches in size. However, you can only use the lower part of the touchscreen for android auto. In the upper area sensus connect still shows navigation and telephony. This has the advantage that you can always access other areas of the infotainment system of the volvo from android auto. However, at the price of a relatively small android auto screen.

Android Auto im Volvo V90

The operation of android auto in the volvo follows the familiar scheme: a long press on the voice control button in the steering wheel starts the voice control of google. Also, as usual, you can click the icons and start calls with google assistant. Above all, however, google maps is available for navigation.

10.12 android auto in the subaru

Android auto in the subaru XV subaru also offers android auto as part of its starlink infotainment system, for example, in the subaru XV. To do this, connect the android smartphone via the USB cable to the USB port located at the front of the center console below the dashboard. After that, you can use android auto in the usual way on the 8-inch touchscreen.

10.13 android auto in the ford fiesta

Android auto can be used in a ford as part of sync 3 with app link. The operation and functionality of android auto is the same as that of other car manufacturers.

Android Auto auf dem 8-Zoll-Touchscreen im Ford Fiesta mit Ford Sync 3 und App Link

10.14 android auto in the honda civic prestige

The infotainment system from honda is called honda connect. Its functions also include android auto. The only drawback: with 7 inches, the touchscreen in the honda civic is a bit too small. Apart from that, android auto works fine in the civic. read more here: honda connect in test – fun, navi, phone, browser, carplay& android auto .

10.15 android auto in the VW touareg

android auto also works in the VW touareg as usual. With google maps you can steer yourself to navigation destinations, you can speak out the destinations. In the VW touareg, however, Android auto does not make full use of the huge 15-inch touchscreen, but is limited to the center area. Too bad.

Android Auto on the 15 inch largeßen touchscreen of Discover Premium of Innovision Cockpit in VW Touareg

10.16 android auto in the mazda 6

In the mazda 6, you plug the usb cable into the designated usb socket at the rear end of the center console. The MDZ connect infotainment system automatically detects the android smartphone and starts the pairing process. Android auto works as usual in the mazda 6 with MZD connect. This allows you to listen to music from google play, for example, or use google maps for navigation.

You start google assistant by pressing the corresponding steering wheel button. The distinction between a short press (starts the car’s voice control) and a long press (starts google assistant), which is common with many other car manufacturers, does not exist in the mazda 6. as soon as android auto is active, only the voice control of google assistant works.

10.17 android auto on MBUX in the mercedes A-class

In order to use android auto with MBUX, you need to purchase the "smartphone integration" package for android auto (and apple carplay) for 250 euros. After that there is nothing to stop you from using android car in your little mercedes.

Android auto works fine on the MBUX infotainment system in the mercedes-benz A-class. However, android auto doesn’t take full advantage of the 10.25-inch touchscreen in the mercedes. With "ok google" you start the android-auto voice recognition. Alternatively to "ok google" you can also start the voice control with the voice control button on the right side of the mercedes steering wheel.

Android car on MBUX in the Mercedes A-Class

you have to connect the android smartphone to the usb-c jack in the front of the center console. android auto (and carplay) only work with it.

11. Excursus: difference between mirrorlink and android auto

be careful: if your car’s infotainment system supports mirrorlink, it doesn’t mean that it will also work with android auto.

Because android auto and mirrorlink are both intended for the integration of android smartphones in the infotainment system of modern passenger cars. and both work similarly: they mirror the android apps on the screen, and the android smartphone takes over the computing power. But the originators, the technical basics, the interfaces and also the interface are completely different. Here a little excursion.

Android auto in test: functions, apps, providers (image 1 of 29)

Android car in test: functions, apps, providers

Android auto in the test: functions, apps, providers navigation

Mirrorlink: fun looks different

Mirrorlink is not a product of google, but originally comes from the research labs of nokia. Since a long time the car connectivity consortium takes care about mirrorlink. Many companies from the automotive and telecommunications industries are represented in this consortium.

mirrorlink suffers from the problem that you have to find mirrorlink compatible devices in the first place and then infotainment systems and smartphones are often not compatible with each other although they formally support mirrorlink. But there are different versions of mirrorlink, which don’t understand each other. In addition, many apps are not certified for mirrorlink and cannot be used with it.

Our previous experiences with mirrorlink were rather disappointing, mirrorlink either didn’t work at all or only unstable or limited. Connections suddenly break off or sometimes don’t come up at all. At least: in the VW passat we could use mirrorlink in a reasonable way.

Seat with best mirrorlink implementation

In the seat ibiza connect we found the best mirrorlink integration so far. But even in the seat, which has a remarkably good integration of modern mobile interfaces, mirrorlink doesn’t look particularly attractive, is cluttered and sometimes hard to use. mirrorlink does not come close to the ease of use of apple carplay for the integration of iphones into the car. Mirrorlink, by the way, you can also retrofit.

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