When wireless Android Auto finally arrived at CES this year we (well I was) were all excited about cutting the cords, no longer having a reliance on the USB cable being compatible with the head unit. Unfortunately it seems that there are compatibility issues with wireless Android Auto too.
At Google IO 2018 Kenwood, the only manufacturer to have wireless Android Auto head units available to purchase at the moment, released a statement surrounding wireless Android Auto and its compatibility.
It seems that for a phone to be compatible with wireless Android Auto it has to have certain wireless protocols included in its software. At the moment the only phones that include these protocols and are thus compatible with wireless Android Auto are the Pixel and Pixel 2 phones and the Nexus 5X and Nexus 6P — and they must be running at least Android 8.0.
From our standpoint, wireless Android Auto is fully functional. Our radios can communicate with any smartphone that has the right protocols…. there are only a handful of phones that do, and these are currently all Google devices. But we fully expect more smartphone makers to enable the functionality in their devices, and when they do, our receivers will be ready.Rick Noetzli, General Manager for KENWOOD Product Research and Development, Car Electronics Sector
The good news is that Google are working on this problem and wireless Android Auto capabilities will be included in the Android code from 9.0 and up. Obviously this is reliant on manufacturers either shipping their phones with Android 9.0 or upgrading to it once available but it is a solution that come this time next year will make every new phone released compatible with wireless Android Auto (assuming it doesn’t release with 12 month old software).
In the meantime all Kenwood units that do support wireless Android Auto also fully support wired Android Auto through a compatible USB cable. Kenwood have added to their statement today saying that:
Google has informed us that, in addition to 9.0 devices, the company is working with several smartphone manufacturers to bring wireless compatibility to devices with Android 8.0 OS.
Apparently Google are saying that this compatibility on “select” non-Google smartphones will arrive “soon”. How Google plan to implement this is unknown but it is possible they could work with a manufacturer to push the required changes in code to the phones when security updates are pushed (for those manufacturers that provide security updates).
This is great news as the percentage of Google smartphones in the wild is minuscule compared with the percentage of non-Google smartphones. Unfortunately for Australians we are not expected to see wireless Android Auto units in Australia this year. Come next year we expect to see a big influx of wireless Android Auto head units as all phones released should support it by default.
We have touched base with Kenwood and will let you know when their wireless Android Auto units do make it here.