Android Auto was introduced to the market a year after Apple CarPlay in 2015. Since then, most cars roll off the lot with smart phone functionality. In the evolving tech market, companies like Google and Apple want a hand in how drivers engage with their vehicle’s operating systems.

These programs take the menu applications for music, navigation and messaging to display on the dash. For safety some functions are disabled – you can’t write out a text on your screen – but it simplifies your phone menu for use in the car to provide the best vehicular infotainment

Like Apple CarPlay, Android requires you to be plugged into the head unit to display the program. Android Auto is an app that can be downloaded from the Google Play store and connected via Bluetooth. All that’s needed is to press the Android Auto button on your dash display. Once you set the Bluetooth to discoverable in your car, the Android phone should detect and pair with it. Unless you reset your network settings, your car and phone should automatically pair each time you turn on the car.

Make voice commands for the aforementioned functions. Non-Android apps like Waze, Facebook Messenger, Spotify, Whatsapp and YouTube Music can all be utilized with the push of a button – most likely on your steering wheel. 

Some units allow you to connect to Android Auto wirelessly, like the Belva BMV62W. To exit Android Auto wirelessly, on your phone notifications screen, tap Exit driving mode from your phone in the notifications center.


Switching up your tunes in traffic is beyond easy.

With music, you can say “play music” to get the music started, or you can say “play” followed by the song you want to hear. You can specify an artist, album or app “radio” channel. For example, “Play ‘Simple Man,’ by Lynyrd Skynyrd on Spotify.”

To stop the music say “pause” after pushing the voice command button.


The most advantageous use of smartphone connectivity is with GPS. Google Maps is projected by Android Auto onto the head unit. The map can either be displayed with compass orientation to true North or to the direction you’re driving. The interface has large touch buttons for intuitive use and can be set to display live traffic information, lane guidance suggestions for directions, updated routes and satellite image options. 

Depending on permissions, it can auto select your route home or to work depending on your driving routine.


Since your smartphone is connected to your car, time or location-based reminders can still be set using voice command – whether or not the app is displayed on your car’s head unit.

Don’t forget your phone is powering the Android Auto menu in your dash. Whether or not the phone screen is on, it’s managing the application function that is being projected on screen. Streaming during long drives can drain your phone battery. Purchasing a head unit with USB fast-charging capabilities or a charging phone mount helps keep your eyes on the road and free up cup holder space.


Sonic Electronix’s Allyn walks us through Android Auto on a Pioneer unit.

Sonic Electronix distributes Android Auto compatible units for all budgets. From the $1500 premium head units to more affordable options around $300.

One car stereo that would be a great option for anyone on a budget would be the Boss Elite BE7ACP. It has all the features you would need including Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, Bluetooth and a 7″ touchscreen. At a slightly higher price point, is the Kenwood DDX5707S that offers the same features and more – it has a capacitive touchscreen that responds to swipe gestures.

Although User Interfaces follow a similar format across the board, there are certain features that will only be available in more premium head units. In the more expensive models, you will be able to get things like larger touchscreens, phone mirroring, and video functions.