How Android Auto works?

How does Android Auto work ? In this article we talk about how to activate Android Auto, how to update it and which cars and apps are compatible.

If you have an Android smartphone, you have surely noticed that while you are using Google Maps and driving your car, a steering wheel icon appears in the notifications menu. You may have thought it was an application connected to the browser, but you never understood exactly what it is.

Today we are here to finally understand what identifies that icon and how to make the most of its potential. We anticipate, but you will have already understood from the title, that it is Android Auto , an extremely interesting application if you are driving.

In the next paragraphs we will explain how Android Auto works , how to connect it to the applications you use most and obviously how to update it to the fullest to exploit its full potential. Ready for this trip? If the answer is yes, put the belt on and let’s go.


  • How Android Auto works
  • How to activate Android Auto
    • How to connect Android auto with USB cable
    • How Android Auto Wireless works
  • Which apps work with Android Auto
  • Which devices and car models work with Android Auto
  • How to update Android auto on the car
    • Smartphone update
    • Update from the car
  • How to install Android Auto on incompatible cars
  • Why doesn’t Android Auto connect?

How Android Auto works

From a technical point of view, using Android Auto from your smartphone or from your car does not change anything at all, the functions remain identical in all respects. First you will have to start the application and immediately afterwards all the activities that the software has recorded with the latest navigations entered by you will appear on the Home page . You will also see the calls made and all that information regarding the weather and notifications received .

In the main control panel, located on the Home page at the bottom of the system integrated in the car and on the right in the smartphone application, you can view four main functions: Navigation , Calls , Music and Home .

As you can imagine, each section gives you the possibility to manage some specific functions inherent to that particular category. For example, if you want to link your Spotify or Deezer account you should enter your reference data in the Music section .

There are two main interactions with Android Auto: touch-screen and voice commands .

  • Touch-screen: both from your smartphone and from the dashboard of your car (if integrated) you can touch the screen and start or change the various applications. Obviously we advise you not to use this system when you are driving, but only when you are setting navigation with the car off or stationary.
  • Voice commands: this solution is definitely the best if you are already driving and you don’t want to turn off or stop the car to start the commands. Android Auto has Google Assistant as a voice assistant and you can start it with the Ok Google command and communicate the search to be carried out.

You will know very well that although Google is intelligent it needs well-defined commands to be able to function properly. When you say Ok Google out loud you will need to add the phrase Directions to (and destination) or Navigate to (and destination) . Many also use the command O k Google Guide to (and destination) but from experience we anticipate that it is often not understood in the correct way.

For music and calls, on the other hand, you have to exclaim different phrases. Specifically: Ok Google, play music and then Play (song name) ; and Ok Google, Call and then Call (contact name) .

How to activate Android Auto

Very nice, but how do you activate Android Auto? First of all you need to download and install the free official application. You will find it on the Play Store under the name Android Auto , locate it, download it and install it. When you start the application, whether from a car or smartphone, you will need to enter your Google data to access your personal profile .

At this point it’s almost done, you just have to connect the Bluetooth of the smartphone to that of the car and allow them to communicate.

How to connect Android auto with USB cable

We are sure that reading about the need for a car with Bluetooth has put you off a bit, but don’t worry, you can connect Android Auto directly with a USB cable.

First of all check that your phone meets the minimum requirements, you can do it on the official web page, but we anticipate that you need an Android 6.0 or higher operating system . At this point you will need to connect one end of the USB cable to the USB port of the vehicle and the other to that of the smartphone.

In case you don’t have the USB port in your car you can:

  • Purchase a USB cigarette lighterto use the car’s access plug as a USB port.
  • Rely on an AUX cable with USB plugto use the car’s AUX IN input and get a USB plug.

If you have not already installed the application, nothing will appear while if it is already ready to use you will simply have to follow the instructions on the screen. In this case, Bluetooth will be activated automatically by the data transmission of the USB cable.

How Android Auto Wireless works

Maybe you are not exactly a fan of flying cables for the cockpit and rely on the wireless connection to have everything under control. You can safely use this wireless application, but you need a specific smartphone to be able to do so.

On the market only some models of Samsung and OnePlus allow this operation, but if you do not own a product of these brands you can still try. The only trick is to check the compatibility of your car, which are usually identified in: having Android 9 or higher , having Google Play Services and having compatibility with screen-mirroring mode .

Which apps work with Android Auto

We have anticipated that you can safely connect your applications to Android Auto, for this to be possible you have to take a look at the compatible applications. Over time, the list of compatible apps and cars increases more and more, but to be sure not to waste time, it is advisable to consult the official list of apps for Android Auto .

As you can imagine, the most famous applications such as Spotify , YouTube and all those related to the Google world are obviously compatible without any problem. In the event that your apps are not compatible with the car used, you can think of using them directly from your smartphone and start them in Bluetooth .

Which devices and car models work with Android Auto

We keep in mind that there are over 400 cars compatible with Android Auto . The most famous brands are: Alfa Romeo , Chevrolet , Fiat , Kia , Opel , Peugeot , Smart , Skoda , Subaru , Suzuki and Volvo . Here you can find the official list of vehicles compatible with Android Auto .

Remember that it is important to check compatibility to avoid problems while driving. If you really don’t have Android Auto as standard, we recommend the updated version for smartphones , optimized really very well.

How to update Android auto on the car

You will know very well how essential it is to always keep the applications updated for maximum performance and in the case of Android Auto also the maximum precision in navigation.

You can update Android Auto directly from your car or from your smartphone .

Smartphone update

To do this from your mobile device, just start the Play Store application and search for Android Auto in the search bar at the top . Click on Search and the desired application will appear. If instead of Install you will be shown the word Update , click on it and wait for the update.

Update from the car

If you want to update Android Auto directly from the car, you will need to go to the Settings section and then immediately to System . From here you will have to press on System Update and then on Check for updates . It will all happen automatically in case there is a new and available version.

How to install Android Auto on incompatible cars

After having checked the list of compatible cars, you could see that your car is not present, how to do it? In order to use Android Auto on incompatible vehicles you will need to use your car stereo. Technically you need to have a compatible stereo system and send the Bluetooth signal from your smartphone to the stereo.

Again we recommend that you take a look at this page to check compatible stereos .

Why doesn’t Android Auto connect?

Technology, as wonderful as it is in theory, sometimes in practice brings with it so many drawbacks. In installing the application and settings maybe Android Auto just doesn’t want to know to connect, why?

The first obstacle is definitely compatibility , check both that of your smartphone and that of the on-board system or stereo system.

If you are perfectly within the parameters then you can run into problems due to: USB cable , faulty car receiver and limited settings .

A badly connected USB cable or a faulty Bluetooth receiver can prevent you from connecting properly. Go to the settings and check that everything is connected properly; give approval to the different usage permissions and reboot the system.

If none of the proposed solutions worked, contact the vehicle manufacturer for information on its compatibility with Android Auto.

Note : Android Auto is not available on mobile devices with Android Go.


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