The ultimate guide to Android Auto

What you need to know about Google's car play

The ultimate Android Auto guide

It's downright dangerous to use your smartphone in the car. But unfortunately our phones have a whole bunch of information we may need while driving, like maps or traffic alerts, or entertainment like our music collections.

While infotainment systems have tried to help out with that, the fact is that most of them are slow and buggy. Apple stepped in to try to address the problem with CarPlay, but it didn't take long for Google to come along with its own solution, Android Auto.

Read this: Your ultimate guide to Google Assistant

But how does Android Auto work, and who supports it? We got you.

What is Android Auto?

Android Auto is Google's infotainment system, a way for you to simply get the information off your phone without having to commit the dangerous act of trying to navigate around your phone while driving.

Your phone's apps, notifications, messages, music and maps will be easier than ever to use while driving. Even better, you'll get the power of Google Assistant on the road. So Assistant can handle all your queries and commands, just like it can on your phone and on Google Home Mini.

In the world of mapping, you'll have both Google Maps and Waze at your service. If you need to communicate with someone, Android Auto features support for WhatsApp, Kik, Telegram, Facebook Messenger, Skype, Google Hangouts, WeChat, Google Allo, Signal, ICQ (yes, ICQ) and more.

Get more: Android TV tips & tricks

If you're looking to blast some tunes, you've got Pandora, Spotify, Google Play Music, iHeart Radio, YouTube Music, Deezer, Amazon Music, doubleTwist, and more. If you're looking to listen to some audio books or news broadcasts, there's Audiobooks by Audible, NPR One, MLB At Bat and a host of other options.

If you're looking for app support, Android Auto has plenty of that too. Google has a big list of compatible apps in the Play Store you can check out. Unlike Apple's more closed system, which requires Apple and a company to work in support for apps, Google seems more freewheeling in letting whatever app wants access to Android Auto to get it.

How do you get Android Auto?

The ultimate guide to Android Auto

There are three ways to get Android Auto. The first two ways are based on your car. You'll need to make sure you either have a compatible car or a compatible aftermarket speaker setup.

There are about 400 cars with Android Auto support. Android Auto has a slight advantage in the aftermarket speaker game, offering support from a wide variety of manufacturers like Alpine, Pioneer, JBL, Sony, Panasonic, Kenwood, Unimax, Evus, Clarion, Mongoose, Macrom and more.

The third, and the more simple, way is to simply download the Android Auto app on your phone. The app essentially mimics the dashboard interface of Android Auto, but on your phone. The idea is that it still provides a better experience while driving, using bigger icons and text to make it easier to see and touch things.

How to set up and use Android Auto

The ultimate guide to Android Auto

The first thing you'll need to do is make sure you have either a compatible car or aftermarket speaker. Once you do that, do the following:

1) Plus your phone into the car via a high-quality USB cable.
2) Android Auto should open automatically.
3) Say "OK Google."

On some cars, you can also long press the voice control button to activate Google Assistant.

If you don't have a compatible aftermarket speaker or car, you just simply need to download the Android Auto app and open it while you're driving.

If you go with the app, it might be a good idea to also get a car mount so that you don't have to hold your phone or pick it up out of a cupholder when you need it.

Once you're using Android Auto, you may notice that it looks a little familiar. That's right, Google has brought over the card-like look of Google Now to Android Auto. You'll get a series of cards, like a messaging card or a music card, with quick actions such as a reply to say "I'm driving now", or one to play or pause a song.

It's all right there on your main screen, so you won't have to bounce in and out of apps like you do in CarPlay. Below the main screen, you'll see a little menu that gives you shortcuts to frequently used apps.

Who supports Android Auto?

The ultimate guide to Android Auto

You're sold on Android Auto. You're not going to opt for simply downloading the app and want a more seamless experience while you're driving. Well, there are more than 400 car manufacturers that support Android Auto, and the list is continually growing.

Google keeps a list of the car manufacturers that support Android Auto on its website, and it even has a list of those that will support the hands-free experience in the future. Regardless, you should find an option with most popular brands.

Without further ado, here's a list of car manufacturers that support Android Auto.

  • Abarth
  • Acura
  • Alfa Romeo
  • Aston Martin
  • Audi
  • Buick
  • Cadillac
  • Chevrolet
  • Chrysler
  • Citroen
  • Dodge
  • DS
  • Fiat
  • Ford
  • Genesis
  • GMC
  • Holden
  • Honda
  • Hyundai
  • Jeep
  • Karma
  • Kia
  • Lamborghini
  • Lincon
  • Mahindra
  • Maserati
  • Mercedes-Benz
  • Mitsubishi
  • Nissan
  • Opel
  • Peugeot
  • Ram
  • Renault
  • Skoda
  • Smart
  • Subaru
  • Suzuki
  • Tata Motors
  • Vauxhall
  • Volkswagen
  • Volvo

And if you were wondering which cars were coming soon:

  • Bentley
  • Dacia
  • Infiniti
  • Jaguar
  • Land Rover
  • Mazda
  • Koenigsegg
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