CarPlay2Droid from is a neat little Android-powered device that brings a full Android experience to your CarPlay compatible head-unit. This means that besides the usual features you get on your car’s display – like Google Maps, Spotify, Waze, phone calls and messages – you can access anything that you would with a full Android device. This includes Netflix, Chrome, games and more.

However, after trialing a pre-release version of the product, I was left with two rather significant questions – one, should you actually do this because it seems like it’s a very, very bad idea, and two, is the in-car user interface ready for a full Android experience?

The answers, sadly, are no, and no.

What’s inside?

CarPlay2Droid is basically a fully featured Android device, and includes amongst its specifications:

  • 1.8 GHz Qualcomm processor with 8 cores
  • 4 GB RAM and 64GB storage
  • Built-in 4G/3G
  • Built-in GPS
  • Android 9 OS
  • Works with any head unit that supports CarPlay (technicality, but virtually all smart head-units support both Android Auto and CarPlay), even though it projects Android, not Apple to your display. I know, it’s a bit confusing.

The promise of the device is .. well .. anything you could do on your Android tablet or mobile, you could do with this.

What can you do?

With millions of Android apps now available, the choice really is yours – you can run literally any app on this thing, and it’ll work mostly the way it would on a tablet.

This is handy, for some features. For example, the Google Maps that you can project with CarPlay2Droid is far more fully-featured than that which you can use through normal Android Auto. This is a welcome feature. The same is true for Waze, Apple Maps, Spotify, or really any of the apps you would otherwise be able to use in a more limited fashion.

Perhaps the best feature, and one that won’t get you in strife, is that it enables you to use wireless CarPlay or Android Auto with your car, even if your car isn’t actually compatible with it. It’s a nice idea … but more on this in a minute.

Where it gets really questionable is doing anything beyond this. You see, in Australia, the various state and territory road rules around the use of visual display devices in cars is really, really straight forward. There are limits as to what you can do, and CarPlay / Android Auto (and the functionality within those ecosystems) is built to comply with those rules. There may be some gray areas, but broadly speaking, you’re not going to get in trouble for using those systems as designed.

You will, however, get in an extremely uncomfortable about of trouble if you’re caught doing some of the things that CarPlay2Droid allows you to do.

For example, any of the following things are likely to see you in trouble:

  • Watching Netflix while driving
  • Using Chrome while driving
  • Using an SMS or messaging app while driving
  • Playing games while driving
  • Watching YouTube, controlling a podcast app, or browsing the App Store

In fact, just about anything would be illegal for a driver of a vehicle to use. At least, you may cop a fine, at worst, you may be charged and put in front of a court for negligent driving. That’s not a place I’d like to be.

You might think … but what if it’s for my passengers? Surely my kids and my partner could enjoy a movie while I focus on driving? Yeah…. no. You see, if there’s a display visible to the driver which is doing non-compliant things (like web browsing, watching a video, playing a game etc) then strictly speaking that’s illegal too, not to mention rather distracting when – as a driver – you should have your attention on your car and those around you.

Should you get one?

As an interesting and unique idea, this definitely caught our attention. I mean, we asked to review it, right?

It’s definitely that. It’s interesting, it’s unique, and it’s something that no one else has really done or is doing … but there might be a good reason for this. Most of what you could do with CarPlay2Droid you absolutely shouldn’t do.

Wireless Android Auto / CarPlay is one thing you definitely should try .. but even then, the implementation isn’t fantastic. It almost never connected automatically for me, requiring interaction either with my phone (which, strictly speaking, is illegal once you start driving) or with the head-unit itself.

The other thing, and this perhaps says as much about Wireless Android Auto / Car Play where it’s officially supported, is that if you’re using it wirelessly your phone doesn’t need to be plugged in. I don’t know about you, but driving between places is a great opportunity to charge my phone, and to do that, it needs to be plugged into something (or, sitting in the Qi charger in the centre console). If I’m going to plug it in anyway (it charges faster than Qi) … wireless connectivity is kind of pointless.

On the plus side, the CarPlay2Droid doesn’t have to be paired with your phone. You can chuck a spare SIM card in it, connect it to your head unit, and use it as a stand-alone device in your car. This isn’t necessarily a bad idea, and – used conservatively – does open up your head unit to a more useful experience than the vanilla CarPlay / Android Auto experience.

Don’t get me wrong, this is an interesting idea, and it’s something there could be a use for. It would be very handy to use while you’re parked.. for example. You could look up some info on Chrome, watch a movie while you eat some dinner on the road, that kind of thing.

It just feels like a bit of a niche use-case to me, and one that probably doesn’t justify buying something like this. Personally, after putting the CarPlay2Droid through a bit of a use test, I’ve removed it from the car and stopped using it. The experience wasn’t that great for me, and while it’s interesting, it’s hard to recommend.

CarPlay2Droid is available for pre-order from for around $295 AUD. That said, it’s sold out at the moment.