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What is Android Auto?

Android Auto allows owners to connect and use their Android smartphones while driving. Here we introduce some of its best features

Words ByDarren Moss

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Like Apple CarPlay, Android Auto is a service which connects your smartphone to your car, allowing you to use most of its features while keeping your concentration on the road.

What is Android Auto?

Android Auto is a system that allows your car’s infotainment screen to display content from your mobile phone. The system is similar in most respects to Apple CarPlay, in that it allows drivers to use common features from their phone, including making calls, listening to music and using navigation software.

Users connect their phone to the car using a USB cable and can control Android Auto’s functions through steering wheel controls, touchscreen interfaces or through rotary controls.

Like other services, Android Auto also includes voice activation and recognition, allowing drivers to speak commands or dictate messages.

Functions of Android Auto include Google Maps (which acts as a free navigation and traffic information service), Google Play music player and traditional phone and messaging applications.

Android Auto also includes third-party application support, with the list of currently supported apps including Spotify, Stitcher and Skype.

Which cars support Android Auto?

Android Auto is available on models from more than 30 different car makers, including Audi, CitroΓ«n, Fiat, Ford, Honda, Hyundai, Kia, Nissan, Peugeot, Renault, Seat, Skoda, Suzuki, Vauxhall, Volkswagen and Volvo.

Examples of models with Android Auto compatibility include former What Car? Award winners:

Globally, there are far more Android phones than there are Apple iPhones, so it’s no surprise to see so many car manufacturers signing up to offer the service. Expect the number of manufacturers involved, and the number of cars offering Android Auto, to increase in the coming years.

Can I add Android Auto to an older car?

Yes. You can add Android Auto to an older car that doesn’t have its own infotainment screen by purchasing an aftermarket head unit display. Kenwood, Panasonic and Pioneer all currently produce head units that are compatible with Android Auto. The cheapest head units, which also include a screen, are around Β£300.

Will my phone support Android Auto?

Android Auto works on any mobile phone running version 5.0 (Lollipop) of the Android software or later.

There is a vast array of mobile phones running Android software, with the likes of Samsung, Sony, HTC and LG all producing Android handsets.

How do I connect Android Auto?

First you'll need to install the Android Auto app on your phone. Next, open the app and auto-enable new vehicles, which will allow you to connect your phone to the car. Also make sure that Android Auto is turned on in your car. Now connect the phone to the car using a USB cable. You'll receive a warning message about activating the service – select agree, and you'll be connected.

Are there any alternatives?

If you have an iPhone rather than an Android phone, you can use Apple CarPlay instead. Apple CarPlay offers many of the same features as Android Auto and is available on a similarly vast range of vehicles.

Other services include MirrorLink, which is available for Android phones and offers similar functionality.

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