Saturday , September 23 2017

Google still actively working on wireless Android Auto

At Google I/O circa 2016 Google announced that they were working on a wireless Android Auto solution. Twelve months roll around and yet we are still yet to see this wireless Android Auto solution. Some people have been saying that Google may have found it too hard to control the experience of the user when transmitting that much data over a wireless solution. We have news for all the doubters, Google have NOT given up on it.

One the questions I was looking forward to asking the Android Auto team at Google I/O 2017 was if they were still working on a wireless solution. Unfortunately, given the limited time we had with the team other questions took priority over that. We now have an answer:

We are in active development of wireless (WiFi) connectivity with OEM partners, but we don’t have a specific launch date to share at this time. Ultimately, OEMs will determine and announce their own production release schedules.

So, yes, Google are still working on a Wi-Fi direct solution for Android Auto but in the end the implementation will have to come from the head-unit manufacturers. They will need to either enable the Wi-Fi in the existing units or provide units that do (for a small fee of course). It is unknown whether a Wi-Fi USB dongle could be made to work with older Android Auto head units (of course when it arrives I will test it out for you).

One of the main reasons people want wireless Android Auto is the inconsistency of USB cables in the whole Android Auto paradigm. Some cables work with some phones and not with others. Some phones will only work with their own brand cables and some phones will not work with any cable, no matter the quality or manufacturer (I know, I’ve tested it with a multitude of cables and phones). If you visit the Android Auto community you will be shocked by the sheer number of people having connectivity issues with their USB cables.

In response to my question about whether Google are looking at standardising the cable required to improve the user experience they replied:

Not all USB cables will work with all cars. If you’re having trouble connecting to Android Auto try using a high-quality USB cable. Here are some tips to finding the best USB cable for Android Auto:

  • Use a cable that’s under 6ft long and avoid using cable extensions
  • Make sure your cable has the USB icon
  • If Android Auto used to work properly and no longer does, replacing your USB cable will likely fix this

Positive words from the Google Android Auto developers themselves but still hardly much comfort. No matter the cable, sometimes it just won’t work. Wireless Android Auto cannot come soon enough for many but keep one thing in mind, when it does arrive you will still most likely need to have your phone plugged into somewhere charging. Your phone will use a lot of juice transmitting all that data wirelessly — but charging a phone in a car is rarely an issue compared with using Android Auto.

Stay tuned to Ausdroid for all the latest Android Auto news, including a hands on analysis of the new Android embedded in the car.

 

Scott Plowman   Associate Editor

Scott is our modding guru - he has his finger on the pulse of all things ‘moddable’, pointing us towards all the cutting edge mods hacks that are available. When he’s not gymming it up, or scanning the heck out of Nexus devices, you'll find him on the Ausdroid Podcast.

Outside of Ausdroid, Scott's a health care professional and lecturer at a well known Victorian university.

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5 Comments on "Google still actively working on wireless Android Auto"

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Member

Why dont they make fully android head unit, I bought one on ebay with anroid 4.1, just install whatever you want from play store/download google maps on it….updates at home wifi, or use hot spot if required…

Stan Norman
Valued Guest
Stan Norman

The headunit in my 2016 Honda Civic is an android tablet, complete with standard android apps. Unfortunately, Honda not only locked down the ability to add apps – including android auto, they also used an older version of android (4.4) on the device and they did not include a sim card slot. So close, and yet so far.

On the positive side my android auto, plugged in, has been flawless, even showing upcoming turns on the display behind the steering wheel.

Daniel Tyson
Ausdroid Manager

Technically this is what Android Auto embedded is, though even that is skinned by the individual car manufacturer.

But in terms of why they don’t encourage people to use one of the Android head units sold on eBay etc. is that it encourages people to use the head unit while driving.

Android Auto is designed for minimal interaction by the driver whereas standard Android is a very heavily interactive experience requiring touch, repeated typing etc. The Android Auto experience was developed in concert with the US NTSB to be a positive and safe experience.

Member

“Not all USB cables will work with all cars.”

This is something we’ve experimentally verified, Scott 🙂

I’ve just ordered a USB-A to USB-C cable from Google, to replace the messy tangle of USB (including an extension cable) in my car. Should be installing that later this week.

I was toying with the idea of updating my head unit, but I think I’ll hold out now until we see some Wifi models.

Member
Great News, it will be interesting to see how much battery drain occurs from Android Auto Wireless. I personally find it annoying to plug in my phone on short trips to the local shops when I’m driving less than a few minutes. Currently considering upgrading my Pioneer 4200NEX to a higher end unit, but on this news, I might wait until Android Auto Wireless sees the light of day. On a side note: Ausdroid has some of the best coverage of Android Auto I have seen anywhere! While other media outlets only cover the headline features, Ausdroid covers actual useful… Read more »
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