CarTalk.com Best of Deals Car Reviews Repair Shops Cars A-Z Radio Show

Car Audio Question: Is Android Auto Worthwhile?

I am looking to update an AM/FM CD player OEM radio with something that has offers Bluetooth connectivity. Some of the units I have looked at also offer Android Auto and/or Apple Car Play driver assistant functionality.

If you use Android Auto, what is your opinion of it, and how well does it work for you? The phone that would be used in the car is a Pixel 2 running Android 10. Just wondering Android Auto (and Car Play) are “nice to have” features, or “should have” features.

Can’t speak about Android since I have an IPhone. I don’t have carplay on my vehicle, but I do a lot of traveling and every vehicle I’ve rented in the past couple years all had Apple Play. I like ApplePlay. The biggest feature is the maps mirroring on the audio display.

Not sure about Android units, but I suspect they all have same type issues. Because I’ve rented probably 15+ cars this past year alone - I’ve found that all manufacturers implementation of ApplyPlay are the same. Some are better then others.

Both my car and my truck have it built in. IMHO it’s generally superior to the factory nav/infotainment. As Google Assistant accepts natural voice commands better than any OEM system I’ve encountered. You can literally just say “Ok Google, give me directions to the nearest McDonalds” and it will instantly pull up Google Maps with a choice of routes to the nearest McDonalds along with it’s address, phone number, and hours of operation.

I typically use it when I’m in an unfamiliar area as Google Maps is constantly updated and the factory nav system isn’t. IMHO it’s a nice-to have feature. If I were looking for an aftermarket head unit, I’d probably pay a bit more for it vs. a similar head unit that doesn’t have it. Particularly if the head unit doesn’t already have nav built in.

Since you have the ability to get it at not much cost, I’d get it, along with Apply Play, and cover your bases.

My wife and I have a Hyundai Elantra with Android Auto and consider it a “must have” for the navigation features and text to speech. We both depend on our smartphones for a lot, and that feature provides the phones with even more utility.

Why? A decent AM/FM CD stereo is the best option in car audio. Also, having it be factory original is even better. I can’t believe people would rather have a car stereo that links with their phone, but doesn’t even have the ability to play physical CDs.

2 Likes

FLAC has the same sound quality as CD/redbook . Also cheap 32-128GB flash drive holds way more music (or anything else) than a CD does. Plus there’s no moving parts, and the media itself is much more durable. I haven’t played a CD in any of my vehicles in close to a decade.

Most new cars would not have a CD player. I bought a used car for my teen daughter and has a 6 CD deck, she won’t know what it is.
I have rented cars with Android auto and I like it. It mirrors your phone, very useful for the map and also to see your text messages on the screen.
The cars we have don’t have any of these, the bluetooth and the rearview camera is a must for the newer drivers though.

With streaming audio from Pandora, why would I want CD’s?

bcohen2010 - FoDaddy pretty much summed up my motivation for wanting to make the switch.

The only downside I can see with an aftermarket head unit with a 6" to 7" screen, is that it will be a target for theft. My perception is that aftermarket units are desired by thieves, but stock units are not.

I have installed aftermarket head units in other cars to gain Bluetooth (access to streaming services and playing files from the phone) and also hands-free calling functionality, but in those cases I opted for single DIN size units that have buttons and LCD displays. They look primitive compared to today’s touchscreen units. Maybe it is a false sense of security, but I feel thieves would not be interested in those types of stereos.

Anyway, driver assistant tools like Apple Car Play and Android Auto require a touchscreen in the head unit, so if I go that route, I am going have to be smart about where the car is parked, and hope for the best. The car does not have a security system, and I will not be adding one.

I guess a low tech anti-theft solution like this could be an option, too.

1 Like