Android Auto is an evolving beast and for the most part, it’s developing well. But of late there has been increasing issues faced by a number of users making it difficult to use. Everything from features being removed, to unexpected responses and screen issues. It all adds up and is detracting from what was a pretty solid experience not long ago.
What issues are users facing?
There are some consistent issues reported, there are also some specific to certain devices. So far there aren’t any consistencies reported other than inconsistencies in user experience, making it hard to troubleshoot.
Inconsistent call experience
Some of this is linked to how the phone is connecting to your stereo. But the underlying issue is that randomly, calls won’t connect through Android Auto. Leaving your caller on the speakerphone on your actual phone, wondering what the heck is going on. Not an ideal experience if you’re receiving important calls while in transit during the day.
In my experience, this is usually fixed by simply hanging up and calling back. But if you’re unlucky enough that the return call doesn’t work, perhaps you’re suffering the second issue we’ve had reported.
Phone not connecting, requiring reconneciton to the unit
If you’re an Android Auto user, it’s probably not going to be unusual for you to get in the car, connect your phone and… nothing. For whatever reason, the phone just hasn’t connected which is frustrating even if you’re not in a hurry.
The resolution to this can be as simple as wait 20 seconds and the device will try to reconnect. Other times you may need to physically reconnect your phone, or even restart the phone. In the worst instances, you’ll have to restart your phone and your car stereo to get the connection working.
Audio echoing from Assistant and streaming options
Possibly the most frustrating fault that we’ve had reported and directly seen in our team is echoing audio. I’ve personally experienced this with a couple of phones lately, including the S21. While I didn’t get audio playback issues that others have, it sounded like there were two Google Assistants answering me with a slight offset in timing.
We’ve had team members experience a second track on a significant (5 seconds or so) delay, making podcasts and streaming music near to unusable.
Unresponsive input options
This issue seems to be more specific to certain devices and — at the moment — it’s unclear why. There are issues where the screen on the Android Auto stereo flashes, blacks out completely or simply becomes unresponsive. So far, devices we’ve seen this on are primarily OPPO and OnePlus but it’s quite plausible there are many more.
What progress is being made on Android Auto?
The news of Android Auto now having the capability to run Assistant routines again is welcome. What would have been better, was for it not to be taken away (late 2018) to start with. Interestingly, the Assistant dialogue stays on screen until the routine is complete. But returning a feature that previously worked and was removed doesn’t fix the other issues we’ve outlined.
Don’t get us wrong, it’s not all bad news and a lot of progress has been made in the last 12 months or so. We saw a new interface for Android Auto drop in 2019. This was followed by a significant maps update and wireless connectivity becoming a reality and now it’s simpler to set up with the core features are built into Android directly.
Over time, Android Auto has transformed from a mostly functional mobile feature to something that was getting close to competing with car play. But more recently there has been an increasing number of issues that for many users — particularly those short of patience — renders it less so, bordering useless. Google’s team will undoubtedly be working on these issues, but the inconsistencies make it difficult to troubleshoot and resolve.
Keep your eyes peeled for updates coming, hopefully, some of these annoying bugs will be resolved soon.