When you purchase through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission. Here’s how it works

Home / Features / Android Auto guide: everything you need to know

Android Auto guide: everything you need to know

Forget NOS tanks and flame decals — injecting your car with Google smarts is far cooler


Looking for a complete Android Auto guide? You’re in the right place. Whether you’re thinking about snapping up a new car with Android Auto smarts, or simply want a full overview of everything it offers, you’ll find everything you need below. From features and compatibility, to wireless solutions, apps, and more, everything you need to know about Android Auto awaits…

What is Android Auto?

VW ID 3 2023 review Android Auto

Let’s start with the basics — Android Auto is a smart in-car platform developed by Google that allows you to access your favourite apps and services directly from your car’s dashboard or infotainment system. Like Apple CarPlay, it works by displaying a modified car-friendly version of your connected Android smartphone’s interface on your car’s display, serving up a simplified and intuitive way to navigate, stream music, make calls, and access various apps while keeping your hands on the wheel and your eyes on the road.

Popular features include turn-by-turn navigation (normally in the form of Google Maps but other options like Waze are also supported), the ability to play your favourite music or podcasts, and even sending and receiving messages using voice commands. It also supports Google Assistant, allowing you to control various functions with simple voice prompts.

Which cars support Android Auto?

Toyota C-HR plug-in Hybrid 220 review lead

Android Auto is compatible with most vehicles from various manufacturers, including popular brands like Toyota, Ford, Honda, Hyundai, Kia, and Volkswagen, and many more. Most new cars come with Android Auto pre-installed, making it easy to connect your Android smartphone and start using the platform right away. Listing every single model here would, of course, not be feasible, so the best advice is to check directly with car manufacturers to confirm compatibility. This is a particularly important step if you’re in the market for a secondhand car and/or one that’s a few years old, as many models only introduced Android Auto support as standard in the past couple of years.

Can you add Android Auto to older cars?

If you’ve got an older car that definitely doesn’t support Android Auto, then there’s hope, albeit at a price. There’s no shortage of various third-party/aftermarket media units from brands such as Pioneer that support Android Auto, which you can install in your vehicle to modernise your driving experience without having to buy a new vehicle. This is, of course, an additional cost, and you might want to pay for professional installation too, if you’re not particularly savvy with installing car tech yourself.

Can you use Android Auto without a car?

Owners of older cars without fancy Android Auto compatibility might be wondering if it’s possible to simply run Android Auto on their smartphone, using a phone holder for easy visibility and access. This solution is ideal, as it provides all the finger-friendly benefits of the Android Auto UI experience, without forking out cash for a new car or media unit. Unfortunately, while this used to be possible, Google dropped support for freestanding Android Auto a few years ago. Dropping features and Google — name a more iconic duo.

Can you use Android Auto wirelessly?

Older Android Auto cars will require you to use a cable connection, but newer models also support wireless connectivity. Your best bet is to check directly with the manufacturer for each car. Those with older models that support cable-only connectivity can, however, buy a wireless Android Auto USB dongle from various company’s, which unlocks the power of wire-free connectivity. Be warned though — this can drain your phone’s battery, particularly on longer journeys. The best solution for practicality and convenience is a wireless connection, along with a wireless charging pad to keep your phone topped up without messing around with any cables in the process.

Which apps work with Android Auto?

Apple Replay and Spotify Wrapped – Apple Music and Spotify icons

There are all manner of very useful apps that work with Android Auto. Google Maps is one of the biggest selling points, given that most built-in car sat navs, even from premium brands, can’t hold a candle to Google’s own sat nav solution. Waze is another popular option for navigation, while music needs are comfortably taken care of by popular streaming apps like Spotify, Amazon Prime Music, Tidal, YouTube Music, Apple Music, and more.

Elsewhere there are apps like WhatsApp which handily read out messages while letting you reply with voice transcriptions, along with other apps like Audible for catching up on audiobooks while you’re out cruising. Naturally, you can easily make and receive phone calls too, as it integrates with your car’s built-in speakers for convenient hands-free calls.

Google Assistant also comes in incredibly useful, letting you not only do things like play/control music with your voice, but also help you send messages, check the weather, or carry out all manner of other tasks that smart assistants are able to do.

Profile image of Esat Dedezade Esat Dedezade Contributor


Esat has been a gadget fan ever since his tiny four-year-old brain was captivated by a sound-activated dancing sunflower. From there it was a natural progression to a Sega Mega Drive, a brief obsession with hedgehogs, and a love for all things tech. After 7 years as a writer and deputy editor for Stuff, Esat ventured out into the corporate world, spending three years as Editor of Microsoft's European News Centre. Now a freelance writer, his appetite for shiny gadgets has no bounds. Oh, and like all good human beings, he's very fond of cats.