Can you use Android Auto with YouTube?

What is Android Auto?

Android Auto is a smart driving assistant developed by Google to allow Android smartphones to integrate with car systems. It provides a simplified interface to control music, navigation, calls etc while driving. (

As described on, Android Auto is designed to “help you focus on the road.” It connects your Android phone to your car’s compatible in-dash information and entertainment system to bring apps and services optimized for driving situations.

YouTube Support on Android Auto

Android Auto does not natively support YouTube. The YouTube app cannot be opened or controlled through the Android Auto interface. This means you cannot search for videos, browse recommended videos, or control video playback directly through Android Auto.

Android Auto is designed primarily for driving safety, providing simplified interfaces optimized for use while driving. Watching videos is considered too distracting for safe driving, so YouTube and other video apps are not supported. Android Auto focuses on music, navigation, messaging, and voice commands.

YouTube itself states in their Android Auto help article: “YouTube isn’t available on Android Auto. For your safety, Android Auto only provides access to music, navigation, messaging, and voice controls while you drive.”[1]

So officially, there is no native support for playing YouTube videos through Android Auto. The app is restricted from opening at all. This limitation is by design to minimize dangerous distractions while driving.

Why YouTube is Not Supported

There are two main reasons why YouTube and other video streaming services are not natively supported on Android Auto:

One major reason is safety concerns around distracted driving. Android Auto is designed to minimize driver distraction, so users can focus on the road. Activities like watching video are considered too dangerous, risking accidents from lack of attention. Google wants to promote safe driving habits by restricting certain apps. According to studies, distracted driving plays a role in 25% of all car accidents.

Additionally, there are licensing restrictions imposed by Google. The YouTube app is not authorized for display on an Android Auto head unit’s screen. Google has not reached licensing agreements with automakers to allow video playback via Android Auto. There are strict regulations around which apps can be enabled. Google likely wants to avoid potential legal issues. Negotiating rights is an extensive process. Until licensing deals are made, YouTube and similar apps cannot be used on Android Auto per Google’s own policy.

Workarounds to Play YouTube

Since YouTube is not natively supported on Android Auto, some users have found workarounds to stream YouTube videos in their cars. Here are some of the most popular methods:

Using Third Party Apps

There are third party apps like AutoTube, AAAD (Android Auto Apps Downloader), and CarStream that can enable YouTube playback on Android Auto. These apps must be sideloaded, as they are not available on the Google Play Store. Once installed, they create an interface to access YouTube on your car’s display.

Rooting the Head Unit

Many car infotainment systems based on Android allow root access, which can then enable installing otherwise restricted apps. After rooting, YouTube and other video apps can be installed directly on the head unit. This allows full access to YouTube on the car’s display without any third party apps or streaming from your phone.

Streaming from Smartphone

Apps like CarStream create a connection between your phone and car display to mirror your smartphone’s screen. This allows streaming YouTube from your phone to the car’s display. The drawback is it occupies your phone screen for the duration of the video.

Using Third Party Apps

Some third party Android apps like AutoTube (source) provide basic YouTube playback capabilities in Android Auto. These apps essentially act as wrappers that launch the YouTube mobile site in a simplified interface optimized for in-car use. However, the experience is fairly limited compared to the native YouTube app.

With AutoTube or similar apps, you miss out on important features like searching for videos, viewing recommendations, and managing subscriptions or playlists. You are essentially limited to playing individual videos by URL. These third party solutions also tend to be buggy and unreliable compared to a fully integrated YouTube experience.

While apps like AutoTube provide a workaround, the functionality is minimal and does not fully recreate the YouTube experience. There are limitations in discovering new content and accessing your personal subscriptions and playlists.

Rooting the Head Unit

One way to enable YouTube playback on Android Auto is by rooting your vehicle’s infotainment system. This gives you full administrator access and allows you to install unsupported apps and customize the software.

However, rooting the head unit is not recommended for most users since it comes with several drawbacks:

  • Rooting requires advanced technical skills to modify system files and partitions.
  • The process varies across infotainment systems and vehicles. There is a risk of permanently damaging the hardware if something goes wrong.
  • Rooting typically voids the head unit’s warranty since it tampers with the software.
  • You may lose access to official software updates from the manufacturer.
  • It can introduce new bugs, glitches, and stability issues to the infotainment system.

Unless you are very technically inclined and willing to take a risk, rooting the head unit solely to get YouTube on Android Auto is probably not worth the effort and downsides for most users.

Streaming from Smartphone

One workaround to get YouTube playback in Android Auto is to stream or mirror your smartphone’s screen to the car’s display. Apps like Mobizen Screen Mirroring allow you to mirror your Android device’s screen, including the YouTube app, to your car’s head unit.

While this method sounds simple, there are some significant downsides. Screen mirroring apps can drain your smartphone’s battery quickly. There is also often lag or quality issues when streaming a mirroring video feed over WiFi to the car display. This can make for a frustrating viewing experience. Additionally, interacting with a mirrored YouTube app lacks the voice command capabilities of true Android Auto integration.

Overall, while screen mirroring is a workaround to get YouTube on your car’s display, it lacks the seamless experience and integration that a native Android Auto YouTube app would provide. The extra battery drain and potential video quality issues also make this an imperfect solution.

Is it Worth the Effort?

While having access to YouTube in the car may seem appealing, there are some downsides to consider before attempting to enable it on Android Auto.

First and foremost is the issue of distracted driving. Watching videos while operating a vehicle dramatically increases risks and takes attention away from the road. According to research from the NHTSA, distracted driving plays a role in approximately 8-12% of all traffic collisions in the United States. Enabling video streaming apps like YouTube on Android Auto will only serve to exacerbate this dangerous issue.

Additionally, the experience of watching videos on a built-in car display is quite limited. Most head units have relatively small screens compared to phones and computers. This may diminish the entertainment value of YouTube, as videos will be harder to see and engage with.

Finally, Android Auto already offers other solid options for entertainment including streaming music, podcasts, and audiobooks. For many drivers, these audio-focused options provide enough entertainment without the risks of video streaming while driving. Apps like Spotify, Pandora, Pocket Casts, and Audible are seamlessly integrated into Android Auto.

Given the distracted driving risks, limited experience, and existing entertainment options, enabling YouTube access on Android Auto may not be worth the effort for most drivers.

Google’s Stance

Google’s reason for not supporting YouTube on Android Auto stems from focusing on driving safety. Since watching videos while driving would be extremely dangerous and illegal in many places, Google restricts certain apps on Android Auto as per agreements with automotive manufacturers (OEMs).

In an official statement regarding YouTube support, Google said “We currently do not have plans to bring a YouTube app to Android Auto. Restricting access to YouTube on Android Auto helps minimize distractions in order to keep users safe on the road.”

While the Google Assistant on Android Auto can provide spoken information from YouTube like video titles, descriptions and analytics, there are currently no plans for full video capabilities due to safety concerns. Google is prioritizing the development of audio-focused media features for Android Auto.

The Future of Video on Android Auto

The future possibilities for video apps on Android Auto seem promising. While Google has not announced plans to add YouTube or other video apps, the platform is continuously evolving. There are a few potential directions:

Google may eventually add support for other popular video apps besides YouTube, such as Netflix or Hulu. The licensing terms for these apps are likely different than YouTube’s, making them potentially easier to integrate. If Google can work out the technical challenges, streaming apps could come to Android Auto.

There is also a possibility that licensing terms with YouTube may change in the future, allowing native YouTube integration. However, this seems unlikely given Google’s strong stance against video for safety reasons.

The broader smart car industry continues to rapidly innovate. New vehicle infotainment systems are gaining capabilities, with some including Android apps and video playback support. As these systems advance, pressure may mount on Google to enhance Android Auto’s offerings.

Overall, while Google is unlikely to add YouTube or video playback to Android Auto soon, the landscape is evolving. There are glimmers of hope that streaming video apps may someday arrive on Android Auto in a safe, integrated way.

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