Can I add Android Auto to my aftermarket radio?

What is Android Auto?

Android Auto is a smart driving assistant developed by Google to mirror features from an Android smartphone onto a car’s infotainment display. It allows drivers to access useful apps and services through the vehicle’s dashboard screen while minimizing distractions. Android Auto was first announced in 2014 and has continued to add new capabilities over time.

Some of the key features of Android Auto include:

  • Google Maps navigation and live traffic updates
  • Media playback from apps like Spotify, Pandora, and YouTube Music
  • Messaging through apps like WhatsApp, Messages, and Google Voice
  • Voice commands via Google Assistant or “OK Google”
  • Hands-free calling
  • News and podcast playback

By projecting a simplified version of the smartphone interface onto the car’s display, Android Auto makes it easier to access core functions without fumbling with apps on a small screen. It aims to minimize driver distraction and allow motorists to focus on the road. Android Auto is compatible with most mainstream car models from 2016 onwards.

Benefits of Android Auto

Android Auto provides a number of useful features and benefits to drivers while allowing them to keep their attention on the road. Some of the key benefits of Android Auto include:

Provides navigation – Android Auto allows you to access Google Maps or other navigation apps on your phone through your car’s infotainment screen. This makes navigation much easier and safer than looking at your phone.

Music playback – You can access your music apps like Spotify through Android Auto to easily play music in your car. You can use voice commands to search for artists, songs, playlists etc.

Messaging – Android Auto has built in support for messaging apps so you can listen to and dictate text messages hands-free while driving. It even provides smart replies to make responding quick and easy without distraction.

Voice commands – With Android Auto you can use “OK Google” or “Hey Google” to activate voice control. This allows you to keep your eyes on the road while controlling music, navigation, calling etc.

Calls – You can make and receive calls through your car speakers and microphone using Android Auto. It also identifies callers so you know who’s calling without looking at your phone.

Integration with car – Android Auto is designed specifically for use in the car. It provides larger interface elements and voice commands suited for driving so you can minimize distraction.

Safety – By providing hands-free access to apps and limiting interaction while driving, Android Auto helps promote safety for drivers. Studies have shown it helps reduce distraction.

Convenience – Android Auto makes it much more convenient to access the key features of your phone in the car through your stereo. You don’t have to fumble with your phone while driving.

Requirements for Android Auto

There are a few key requirements needed to use Android Auto in your vehicle:

You’ll need a compatible car stereo or aftermarket head unit that supports Android Auto. Many newer vehicles come equipped with Android Auto built-in, but for older cars you’ll likely need an aftermarket stereo. Major brands that offer Android Auto compatible head units include Pioneer, Kenwood, Alpine, Sony, and more.

You’ll also need an Android smartphone running Android 5.0 or higher and have the Android Auto app installed. This allows your phone to connect to your car’s head unit and project the Android Auto interface on your car’s display. Make sure your phone data and Bluetooth are turned on as well.

For wireless Android Auto connectivity, your phone will need Android 8.0 or higher. The head unit will also need to support wireless Android Auto, which is only available in newer aftermarket stereos.

Adding Android Auto to Aftermarket Stereo

One of the easiest ways to add Android Auto to your car is by installing an aftermarket stereo receiver that is compatible with Android Auto. Here are the key steps for adding Android Auto using an aftermarket stereo:

First, you’ll need to purchase an aftermarket stereo that is listed as being compatible with Android Auto. Some of the major brands that offer Android Auto head units include Pioneer, Kenwood, JVC, Sony, Alpine, and Boss. Make sure to verify Android Auto compatibility before purchasing the stereo.

Next, you’ll need to install the new Android Auto stereo in your car, either yourself or by taking it to a professional installer. The installation steps will vary depending on your specific car model and stereo unit.

Once the new stereo is installed, connect your Android smartphone to the stereo’s USB port. If prompted, allow access to your notifications and phone functions. Open the Android Auto app on your phone and follow the setup prompts.

The Android Auto app should now launch on your new stereo’s display. You’ll be able to access and control many of your phone’s apps and functions directly from the car stereo, including Google Maps, messaging, music apps, and more. Android Auto displays a simplified interface optimized for safe driving.

That’s the basic process for adding Android Auto capabilities to your car using an aftermarket stereo receiver. Just be sure to research stereo compatibility and follow installation instructions carefully. With the right stereo and setup, you can enjoy Android Auto’s features in almost any vehicle.

Compatible Aftermarket Stereo Brands

There are several major brands of aftermarket car stereos that support Android Auto integration, including:

  • Pioneer – Pioneer is one of the largest manufacturers of aftermarket car audio and they were one of the first brands to support Android Auto. Many of their Double DIN head units are Android Auto compatible like the AVH-W4500NEX.
  • Kenwood – Kenwood makes a wide range of Android Auto compatible head units in various sizes like the Kenwood Excelon DMX7706S.
  • Alpine – Alpine is known for their high-end systems and they offer compact Android Auto receivers like the Alpine ILX-W650.
  • Sony – Sony car audio has Android Auto models across price ranges like the Sony XAV-AX5500.
  • JVC – JVC offers affordably priced Android Auto units such as the JVC KW-M875BT.

There are also many other brands that now support Android Auto either standard or as an add-on, so you have lots of options when choosing an aftermarket car stereo.

Troubleshooting Android Auto Issues

Android Auto can sometimes experience issues like failing to connect, lagging, or showing a black screen. Here are some common troubleshooting solutions for Android Auto problems:

If Android Auto fails to connect properly, first ensure your phone and car are compatible with Android Auto according to the official requirements. Try unplugging and replugging the USB cable, restarting the car infotainment system, checking USB settings, and updating to the latest version of Android Auto.

For lag, black screens, or other glitches try restarting both the phone and car infotainment system. Check for Android Auto updates, wipe app cache/data, and disable battery optimization for Android Auto. Eliminate battery drain by charging phone during use. If issues persist, reset car infotainment system and troubleshoot cable and port issues.

If Android Auto randomly disconnects, first check for loose USB connections, damaged cables, and dirty/faulty ports. Unpair and re-pair phone to infotainment system and toggle USB debugging settings. For consistent dropping, try a different phone cable or USB port. Update phone software, reset network settings, and check for signal interference.

For touchscreen problems, recalibrate car display and restart Android Auto. Adjust touch sensitivity settings and check for screen protector issues. As a last resort, factory reset the infotainment system if touch accuracy does not improve.

If no solutions resolve persistent Android Auto issues, try contacting tech support. Provide details on smartphone model, car make/year, and Android Auto version when requesting troubleshooting assistance.

Limitations of Android Auto

While Android Auto offers many benefits, it also comes with some limitations that users should be aware of before installing it in their vehicles.

One key limitation is the need for a compatible Android smartphone to be connected via USB in order to use Android Auto. It does not function as a standalone system, so you’ll always need your phone present and plugged in to access its features (source). This can make certain things like charging your phone more difficult.

Android Auto also has limited app support compared to a regular Android device. Only certain apps designed for Auto are available, like navigation, messaging, and audio apps. You can’t access all the apps or functionality you may be used to on your Android smartphone (source).

Some premium features of Android Auto require an ongoing subscription fee after an initial free trial period. For example, wireless Android Auto connectivity in certain vehicles may require paying a monthly or annual charge after the first 3 years (source).

Overall, while Android Auto simplifies using apps in the car, it comes withconnectivity, app, and cost limitations to factor in. Users should weigh these potential downsides before integrating it into their vehicle.

Android Auto Tips and Tricks

Here are some tips and tricks for getting the most out of Android Auto:

Take advantage of Google Assistant for hands-free use while driving. Say “Ok Google” or hold the voice command button on your steering wheel to get directions, play music, send messages, and more [1]. Customize Google Assistant to only read out notifications that are important to avoid distraction.

Customize the Android Auto home screen by going to Settings > Customize launcher. Here you can choose which apps show up when Android Auto launches [2].

Improve sound quality by adjusting media volume on your phone instead of just the car stereo. Go to Settings > Sound on your phone and adjust media volume up.

Download Android Auto compatible apps like Spotify, Pocket Casts, Audible, and more for easy access to music, podcasts, and audiobooks.

Switch to Waze for real-time traffic updates and routes. Waze can be set as the default navigation app in Android Auto.

Customize themes and backgrounds in the Android Auto app settings to personalize the look and feel.

Use voice commands to dictate text messages and have Android Auto read them aloud to minimize distraction. You can also have incoming messages automatically read out loud.

Future of Android Auto

Android Auto is constantly evolving with new features and capabilities. Some exciting things to expect in the future of Android Auto include:

Expanded app integration – Google is working on allowing more app categories into Android Auto beyond just media and messaging. Soon you may be able to use your favorite mobile apps seamlessly in Android Auto 1.

Wireless Android Auto – Google aims to enable wireless Android Auto connectivity directly between your phone and car display without needing a USB cable. This will allow for easier, cord-free use of Android Auto 2.

Google Assistant enhancements – The Google voice assistant is being improved with more natural voice control and capabilities optimized for the in-car experience.

Overall, Android Auto promises to become even more convenient, personalized and intelligent. As Google continues innovating, Android Auto is sure to provide an excellent connected driving experience now and in the future.


In summary, it is possible to add Android Auto to an aftermarket car stereo, but there are a few key things to keep in mind:

– Not all aftermarket stereos are compatible with Android Auto. You’ll want to look for a stereo specifically advertised as Android Auto ready or compatible.

– Bluetooth and a USB connection are required for Android Auto to function properly. Make sure your aftermarket stereo has these.

– You’ll need an Android smartphone running Android 5.0 or higher to use Android Auto. It is not compatible with iOS.

– The installation process involves connecting your Android smartphone to the stereo via USB, and completing the Android Auto setup prompts on your phone.

– Some troubleshooting may be required, like checking USB cable connections and compatibility, Android Auto app updates, and smartphone settings.

– Android Auto brings useful features like Google Maps navigation, hands-free calling and messaging, and music streaming to your car’s display. But it does have some limitations to be aware of.

– With a compatible Android phone and aftermarket stereo, Android Auto can be a great way to bring a smarter, safer connected driving experience to your vehicle.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *