Android Auto app guide and how it works

As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases, at no extra cost to you.
Please check the Affiliate Disclaimer for more information.

Android Auto app guide and how it works, is what you’re going to learn in this article! If you have ever got into a friend’s new car and marveled at the infotainment system, it’s only natural that you start to wonder how you can upgrade yours.

With so many apps, everyone you ask will probably give you different advice about Android Auto and how it works. Realistically, Android Auto is a simple solution to connect your smartphone to your car’s dashboard display, but for those who are new to the game, we have a complete guide for you.

What is Android Auto

Android Auto is an infotainment system integration similar to Apple CarPlay and MirrorLink.

It’s a system that allows you to use your favorite apps without having to handle your Android phone, mirroring its info in your car’s infotainment screen. Aside from the convenience, it’s a far safer way to use your phone while you are driving.

Android Auto: how it works

In a way, it is similar to how you would cast a film or music from your phone to your TV. It is a case of merging your smartphone with the controls that are already in your car. For example, if you have a playlist of your favorite songs on your mobile, you will be able to listen to it and see it through your car display.

If you want to skip a song or adjust the volume, you can use the controls on your steering wheel or through the touchscreen of your car’s display.

Android Auto isn’t limited to playing music. It will also allow you to safely see and respond to messages, make calls, and navigate. All of this we will talk about further on.

How do you get Android Auto

Before getting too excited, you will need to check the compatibility of your car and your phone as not every vehicle or mobile device is able to use it. It is also worth checking if your aftermarket stereo is compatible if that’s the case.

Pioneer has an excellent range of aftermarket stereos that work well with Android Auto. If you have an Android 10.0 or higher you will find it with your built-in apps, if not you can download it from the Google Play store.

Setting up Android Auto

There are two ways you can use Android Auto: via USB connection or wirelessly on some latest vehicles and Android setups. Either way, you will need a USB cable to begin the process and you have to make sure your car is in parked mode.

  • Once in Park and after your phone being unlocked, turn Android Auto on in your car display;
  • Turn on your Bluetooth (and Wi-Fi is possible);
  • Pair your phone and your car;
  • At this point, you might be asked to download or update some of your apps. It is recommended that you do this now;
  • Allow Android Auto permission to access your apps and turn on your notifications.

If you are using a USB cable, every time you connect it, the Bluetooth will automatically turn on. If you have auto wireless, you need to select the Android Auto option on your dashboard display. This might take a few seconds so don’t feel the need to start touching other buttons.

You will notice that once you are connected, your phone screen will go blank. This is to prevent you from being tempted to use it while you are driving.

What can you do with Android Auto

You won’t be able to use every Android app with Android Auto. Logically, the idea behind the Auto app is to allow you to use only your Android phone for the essential while driving.

You also won’t be able to use video playback (at least in a straightforward and legal way) to avoid distractions. Again, the Play Store has all of the apps that you can use but we are going to talk about some of the most popular.

The best music apps for Android Auto

Now that you have Android Auto set up, you will be able to play your favorite songs through your car stereo without losing any sound quality. The most popular music apps include SpotifyPandora, and YouTube Music.

The music app icon will appear on your dashboard screen and from here you can select the songs, artists, playlists, and depending on the app, a radio station. As we mentioned before, you will be able to select songs and change the volume the same way as you would in your car stereo.

The best navigation apps for Android Auto

Since Google developed Android Auto, it makes sense that one of the best navigation apps is Google Maps. Another popular option is Waze, which also notifies you about police hazards and toll roads. Here WeGo can be used as a journey planner but it’s also a handy app to help you find public transport around cities.

The map or route you enter will be displayed on the screen just as it would your phone or navigation system.  And, you will still hear notifications through your car stereo.

The best messaging apps for Android Auto

The apps available will also depend on safety. Facebook isn’t compatible whereas Facebook Messenger is. WhatsApp and Skype are compatible and work very well.

Messages are read to you so that you can keep your eyes on the road. Android apps that support voice-to-text will allow you to reply to messages without having to text from your Android device.

Android Auto and Google Assistant

All of the apps we have mentioned, as well as many more, will work alongside Google Assistant. Using voice commands will completely eliminate the need to even touch the display screen. As soon as you are in your car and Android Auto is connected, say “ok Google” to get started.

Specific voice commands let you make a phone call, choose songs, or even get weather and news updates. Here are some examples of voice commands to use Google Assistant with Android Auto:

  • “Call” and then the name of person/number/home you want to call;
  • If you say “reply” it will reply to the last message you received, or “text name”;
  • “WhatsApp video” or “WhatsApp call” and the name of the person;
  •  “Play dance music”, or you can say the artist, playlist, or a particular song. The default app is Google Play Music. If you want to use another  music app, just include the name of the app;
  • For navigation, you can say the address or commands such as “navigate home” or “navigate to the nearest gas station”.

Wrap Up

If you spend any significant amount of time in your car, Android Auto is definitely a wise choice. Your infotainment system becomes a mini copy of your Android smartphone so that you can focus on driving.

Knowing the Android Auto app guide and how it works really is simple, and as you are probably using all of the apps you need already, it will just be a case of downloading the Android Auto app and connecting it to your car.

Some other Android Auto articles that may be interesting for you: