More and more carmakers are choosing to equip their new models with Apple’s CarPlay or Android Auto. Despite the prevalence of aftermarket head units that run on open source Android—much like certain set-top boxes—the optimisation hasn’t really been on par with Google or Apple‘s official in-car-entertainment solutions.
For Android smartphone users, a few useful apps are displayed on the head unit of the car, including navigation apps, calls, music, and so on. There are compatibility restrictions, of course, but most modern Android smartphones support Android Auto; the vehicle, on the other hand, needs to be equipped with a compatible head unit from the manufacturers or an aftermarket option.
There have generally been two ways you can connect to a compatible car for Android Auto. The USB cable works with most modern Android phones, although Google recommends the latest version for the “best performance”. A wireless version of Android Auto, meanwhile, used to be limited to phones by Samsung and Google for Android 10.
However, as reported by The Verge, Google has updated its support page with some interesting details. For one, wireless Android Auto is now supported on “any smartphone with Android 11.0 and 5GHz Wi-Fi”. There are a couple of restrictions: certain EU regulations on 5GHz bands, while the wireless function isn’t supported in Japan or Russia, but this means that the full Android Auto experience is finally being extended to all users.
This is a win for the Android ecosystem as a whole. It didn’t really seem fair that—stable connection allowing—the wireless feature remained exclusive to certain Google Pixel or Samsung Galaxy phones. While there hasn’t been any official word on this from Google (besides the support page), it appears that Android Auto 11 will be able across a vast range of devices, including the affordable segment.
Google appears to be taking a rather holistic approach with Android 11, with a redesigned power menu that has easy access to Google Pay, along with an easy way to control Smart Home devices. Plenty of manufacturers are already pushing beta releases of the upcoming software update, including Oppo and Xiaomi.
And the significant update to the Android Auto compatibility list should also serve as incentive to carmakers to equip more and more of their new models with Google’s answer to Apple CarPlay.
So, what do you think? Let us know in the comments section below—we’re also interested to hear about your experiences on Android 11 beta.