Currently reading: What is Android Auto and how does it work?
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Want to use your car’s infotainment system as if it were your smartphone? Android Auto allows you to do just that, with quick and easy access to a host of applications for users of Android phones. 

An alternative to Apple CarPlay for owners of a non-fruit-based phone, Android Auto is a service that lets you connect your Android phone to the car's infotainment system to display sat-nav apps, legally take phone calls, reply to messages and play audio. 

All of these functions are accessed via large icons on your infotainment screen, as well as voice commands. Google, the company behind Android Auto, says the software aims to reduce your levels of distraction as much as possible, so the icons should be easy to reach when you're driving. 

As car manufacturers try to grapple with the relentless development of smartphones, many drivers prefer to use mirroring services like Android Auto over the standard operating system (OS) fitted to their cars. It's no surprise, then, that around 150 million cars on our roads worldwide have Android Auto installed.

How do I access Android Auto?

If you have an Android phone - that’s a phone developed by companies such as Samsung, OnePlus, Huawei, Nokia, Sony or Google itself - Android Auto will come pre-installed on your phone if it's operating on Android 10 or above. It’s also free to install on the Google Play Store. 

Connecting to your car is an easy process, as Android Auto works using a USB cable. Some newer cars offer a wireless Android Auto connection too, through Bluetooth or a wi-fi connection. If you're unsure of your car’s method of connection, have a quick look at the car's manual. 

Is my phone compatible with Android Auto?

There are a few caveats to this one but stick with us. To connect your phone to Android Auto using a USB cable, it has to be running on Android 8.0 (Oreo) or higher and have an active data plan.

If you want to connect it wirelessly to the infotainment system and you have an Android phone that isn't made by Samsung or Google, make sure it’s running on Android 11.0 or later. 

Samsung or Google phones can use Android 10.0 or later, while Samsung Galaxy S8, Galaxy S8+, or Note 8 models work with Android 9.0 or later.

Remember: all phones require an active data plan and 5GHz wi-fi support. Most phones have the latter, but if you're experiencing connection issues, it may be down to this. To resolve it, contact your phone manufacturer.

How do I enable Android Auto in my car?

There are two ways of doing this: via USB connection or wirelessly. Firstly, ensure your car is compatible with Android Auto. You can consult Android's guide to every car compatible with the system here

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If you're using a USB connection, make sure your phone is in range of your mobile data network and plug the USB into your car's port and your phone.

The port can be either a USB-A (rectangular) or a USB-C (oval) connector. Instructions will then appear on your car's infotainment screen; follow those steps to continue. You don’t need a Bluetooth connection if you’re using this method.

Android auto on lexus ux300e

If you're connecting wirelessly, make sure you're connected to your mobile network and find the Bluetooth menu within your phone's settings app.

To ensure your phone is discoverable, press and hold your car's voice-command button to open the menu to pair your phone.

You may also need to make sure your infotainment screen has Bluetooth or wireless connections enabled. On-screen instructions will then appear on your infotainment display.

Once your phone is paired with your car via Bluetooth, Android Auto should start within a few seconds. 

What apps can I use with Android Auto?

From navigation to music, there are several apps compatible with Android Auto. See our list of our favourite Android Auto apps below: 

Google Maps - Google’s own navigation app

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Waze - a third-party navigation app with several useful features such as incident reporting, police car warnings and more

Spotify - a popular music and podcast app

Amazon Music - an alternative to Spotify for your favourite tunes

Audible - Amazon’s app for audiobook playback

WhatsApp - you obviously can’t text people here, but you’re able to hear messages you’ve been sent, plus send back messages via voice control

How much does Android Auto cost?

Android Auto is free to use and the app is free to download to your phone. However, you may be subject to some data charges if they’re not already included on your mobile phone plan. 

However, some manufacturers include Android Auto on higher trim levels only, or as an optional extra on entry-level models - but it’s becoming increasingly common for brands to include it as standard, along with Apple CarPlay. 

Which cars have Android Auto?

Since its first UK appearance in the 2016 Honda Civic, Android Auto has become ubiquitous.

In fact, it's now available on most new models. In total, 63 brands offer Android Auto in their vehicles in an official capacity. 

See our list below of brands in the UK that offer Android Auto. You can find a list of every car that comes with the software here. 

Car brands that offer Android Auto in the UK

Abarth Dodge Kia Seat
Alfa Romeo DS Lamborghini Skoda
Aston Martin Ferrari Land Rover Smart
Audi Fiat Lexus Ssangyong
Bentley Ford Maserati Subaru
BMW Genesis Mazda Suzuki
BYD Honda Mercedes-Benz Toyota
Cadillac Hyundai Mitsubishi Vauxhall
Chevrolet Infiniti Nissan Volkswagen
Chrysler Iveco Peugeot Volvo
Citroen Jaguar Porsche  
Dacia Jeep Renault  

Pros of Android Auto

There are several benefits to using Android Auto - and it’s often down to the software that comes with your car. 

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In fact, many drivers believe Android Auto’s Google Maps integration is more intuitive, accurate and useful than pre-installed satellite navigation systems. Google often updates Android Auto, with the latest round adding AI which can summarise messages, read them out to you and reply on your behalf.

It’s very handy to have all of your favourite apps at your fingertips when you’re on the move, and voice integration in apps like WhatsApp are useful for staying in contact with your friends and family during long journeys. 

Android Auto’s wide selection of apps is also a plus, meaning you can stick to your preferred music or podcast app of choice. 

And, if we’re honest, it often looks better than many of the infotainment offerings from some car brands today.

Cons of Android Auto

While Android Auto might seem like the ideal solution for most phone users, it’s not for everybody. 

The ultimate negative of the system is that it can only be used with an Android phone, so it’s not accessible to every driver. 

You also need to keep an eye on your data usage with Android Auto, as apps such as Spotify, Amazon Music or Audible can sap your data if you’re not set to a specific offline mode. 

Plus, if you don’t have the right cable, and your car can’t offer wireless connectivity, you might not be able to connect to Android Auto at all.

If you’re not a fan of touchscreens, you might want to avoid Android Auto too, as most functions are controlled via your car’s infotainment system, which, as we know, are all moving to this form of interior entertainment.


What apps support Android Auto?

Not all apps support Android Auto, but those that do will normally display on the car's infotainment screen while you're connected. Some of the most popular apps you can use are Google Maps, Facebook Messenger, Spotify, Audible, Waze and WhatsApp.Electric car drivers can also get apps that locate chargers, including from ChargePoint, BP Pulse, PlugShare and Zap-Map – although Zap-Map requires you to pay a monthly subscription fee to activate CarPlay mirroring.Motorists can also use apps from RingGo, The AA and JustPark.

What is the difference between Android Auto and Android Automotive?

Both are based on Google’s Android platform and both give you a way to use your phone in the car, but that's where the similarities end. While Android Auto works according to your phone being connected to the car's infotainment display, Android Automotive is installed directly into the car.For example, Ford now uses Android Automotive instead of its own Sync system in several vehicles.

Can you play games on Android Auto?

Yes, you can, but you can access them only through an app called Gamesnacks. Developed by Google and pre-installed on the Android Auto app, this is available from Android Auto version 6.7 and above.It allows you to play a host of games using your car's touchscreen – while you're not driving, of course. Popular ones include 8 Ball Billiards, Brain Trainer, Cake Slice Ninja and Mahjong.

Can you install Android Auto in any car?

Android Auto can’t be retrofitted into existing infotainment systems, but you can buy an aftermarket display. Prices vary from around £75 to £1000, and the display will be larger and available in a higher definition the more you spend.They're available for cars with double-DIN slots but not for those in which the infotainment screen is properly integrated into the dashboard.

What is the latest-generation Android Auto?

Google quietly released Android Auto v10.0 at the beginning of 2023 after two months of testing, and with it arrived a barrage of new features including a cleaner, simpler user interface to make it compatible with bigger infotainment displays and introduced a split-screen mode.Its new tiled layout makes it easier for both driver and passenger to read and allows it to adapt to varying infotainment screen sizes, and it displays more icons for users to easily shortcut between apps.

Jonathan Bryce

Jonathan Bryce
Title: Editorial Assistant

Jonathan is an editorial assistant working with Autocar. He has held this position since March 2024, having previously studied at the University of Glasgow before moving to London to become an editorial apprentice and pursue a career in motoring journalism. 

His role at work involves writing news stories, travelling to launch events and interviewing some of the industry's most influential executives, writing used car reviews and used car advice articles, updating and uploading articles for the Autocar website and making sure they are optimised for search engines, and regularly appearing on Autocar's social media channels including Instagram, TikTok, and YouTube.

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Add a comment…
manicm 12 October 2023

Built-in satnavs become outdated after 3 years max, involve subscription fees, are never as accurate as the map systems on your phone be it Android or iOS, and add to the cost of the car.If you want to live in the dark ages, kudos to you. But Ferrari was absolutely correct in not offering their own satnav in the Purosangue.

xxxx 12 October 2023

Rubbish, never paid a subscription for my built in sat nav and never needed wifi, never recieved a notification or advert, it's never tracked me or sent my location to third parties. Accurate within 8 meters which is only 3 metres more than the car is long.

Manufacturers are taking the easy route in allowing apple and android to battle it out by providing the media interface etc.  Will never be as simple and as cheap as jumping in the car without a phone and inputing the postcode, end of.

jason_recliner 20 August 2023

"what is Android Auto"? It's what the "cool kids" - i.e. under 60s - use!

Peter Cavellini 20 August 2023

Tech Candy like this is what's selling cars these Days,min some cases it's a deal breakers especially for those who have grown up with it, I find it's too much of a distraction and most unknowingly break the law every day, you were always told that before you set off anywhere that you setup what your using so that you didn't get tempted to, I experienced this just the other day and was shocked how close I had gotten to the vehicle in front. Today's World is a very busy place technology has helped to connect instantly with clients but there is the others who strat there day talking to there friends, they continue this conversation into the car and talk till they arrive wherever. I always thought that phones could only be used while stationary, it wouldn't be hard solve for manufacturing, people would just have to accept that they're going to have to stop, no,I still think that only what's essential for driving should be active, who knows it might improve some peoples driving skills.