What is Android Auto?

Phone connectivity in cars has come a long way since days of old. Long gone are the old Bluetooth headsets you strapped to your ear and spent hours trying to get connected – now, connecting your phone to your car has never been easier. Whether you have an Apple phone or Android, you’ve never been closer to full car-to-phone connectivity than with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

Here, we’ll walk you through Android Auto and explain what it is, how it works, how to use it and what it can do. Plus, we’ll let you know what electric cars have Android Auto as standard.

MG5 interior - steering wheel

What is Android Auto?

Android Auto is a phone-mirroring system for in-car-entertainment that you can sync your Android phone up to. In case it wasn’t obvious enough, this system is specifically for mobile phones with an Android operating system (like Samsung Galaxy or Google Pixel phones, for example). It’s designed to make using apps on the move as safe and as simple as possible.

If you have an iPhone, you’ll need to use Apple CarPlay, the good news being that if a car comes with one system it usually comes with the other too.

Android Auto essentially displays your mobile phone screen in a simpler, more driving-friendly format, to your car’s infotainment screen. You won’t have access to all your apps, but you do get the essential ones for driving like maps and music. It means when you’re out and about and need directions or want that favourite album of yours, you can open and manage it all through your car, without touching your phone. Systems like Android Auto are even more important now you’re not able to touch your phone at all while driving.

It also means you’re no longer relying on the cars built-in sat-nav or relying on the radio. Happy days.

How does Android Auto work?

Android Auto works by connecting your phone to your car either physically using a cable, or wirelessly by Bluetooth, depending on whether your car/phone has that capability.

Once connected, your car infotainment screen will display a simpler version of your phone screen, something like this:

Peugeot e-2008 parked on street

You can then access a lot of the apps you’d find on your mobile phone through your cars infotainment system – so you don’t need to touch your phone at all while you’re driving.

Peugeot e-2008 parked on street

How to use Android Auto

To use Android Auto, you’ll need a compatible mobile phone. Then you’ll be able to check your schedule, message and call people, change music or choose a podcast and ask for/follow directions using your phone’s map app.

You can open, use and close apps physically by using your car’s touchscreen, or verbally by using your phone’s voice control.

Check your device

Compatible mobile phones for Android Auto all need to run the Android operating system, but there is a caveat:

  • If your device runs Android 9 or lower, you need to download the Android Auto app in order to use Android Auto in your car.
  • If your device runs Android 10 or above, the phone will have it built in so all you need to do is connect.

To check the system on your device, go to your phone’s Settings then find About phone and see Android version.


If you’re forever travelling from meeting to meeting, the calendar function in Android Auto is useful as it’ll display or read your upcoming events as they are in your Calendar.

It also means that, if your scheduled event has a designated place attached to it, you can tap, and Android Auto will direct you straight there – without you fumbling for the address.

If there’s a contact assigned to the event too, you can also tap to call them and let them know if you’re running late. Handy!

Messaging & calling

The notification centre gives you the chance to read and reply to messages. How? By using your voice.

Android Auto syncs perfectly with your device’s in-built assistant, usually Google Assistant in Android’s case, to allow you to read, send and reply to messages using your voice.

For example, if you get a text from someone while driving, it’ll flash up on your screen. You can then ask the car, through your phone, to read that message to you out loud:

Hey Google, read my message from Lucas”
“Sure, Lucas says….”

You can then ask it to reply, too:

“Hey Google, reply to Jess and tell her I’m on my way but there’s a lot of traffic”
“Sure, your message to Jess says, ‘I’m on my way but there is a lot of traffic’ – do you want to send it?”

And you can start new messages too, so your friends and family will never miss hearing from you again. All while never taking your hands off the wheel or your eyes off the road.

You can make and answer phone calls too in a similar fashion:

“Hey Google, call Stéphanie”
“Calling Stéphanie, mobile”

Remember: touching your phone while driving is against the law and you should only make calls or answer messages when it’s safe to do so.


Like to change what you’re listening to often? Maybe you can’t decide between music, podcasts or radio while you’re on the move? Android Auto can help with that.

You no longer need to touch the infotainment screen (though you can if you like) or pull over and change it on your phone yourself. Now, you can ask your phone to do it for you through Android Auto:

“Hey Google, play BBC Radio 2 on BBC Sounds”
“Hey Google, play my eighties playlist on Spotify”
“Hey Google, play ‘Diary of a CEO podcast’ on Audible”

Again, designed to keep you safe on the move, you no longer have to trawl through your phone apps and hook it up via the AUX cable – it’s all right there in front of you on your car infotainment screen.


Possibly the most helpful feature for those on the move. Using a phone’s map app – like Google Maps or Waze – you can ask Android Auto (or use the touchscreen) to take you somewhere without having to stop and enter it yourself:

“Hey Google, take me to Stonehenge” 

Once loaded up, your car infotainment screen becomes a full version of your phone’s map app, giving you clear directions visually and verbally to your destination with an estimated time of arrival.

Want to change the music while you’re getting directions somewhere? No bother – Android Auto has a ‘navigation bar’ at the bottom of the screen that stays up all the time to make sure you know where you’re going.

All of the apps are designed to be used with as fewer taps as possible, to keep you and others safe on the road.

Peugeot e-2008 parked on street

How to connect to Android Auto

You can connect your Android phone to Android Auto using a USB cable or wirelessly, depending on if your phone/car is capable. You’ll need to check that individually but brand new EVs tend to have wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto capability (like the FIAT 500e for example).

Using wired Android Auto

  • Plug your phone into your car’s USB port using a USB connector cable (you’ll need to purchase one if your phone didn’t come with one originally). Make sure you get one with the correct port for your phone and car (some use USB-C connectors, which are slightly different).
  • If you have a mobile running Android 10 or newer, your phone should then automatically sync up and load Android Auto.
  • To load Android Auto on your car, find the Android Auto app on your car’s infotainment system. Tap it and it’ll stop you using your mobile and mirror your phone’s apps onto your car infotainment screen.
  • Then, off you go! Stream music, navigate or call people to your heart’s content.

Using wireless Android Auto

  • Make sure your mobile Bluetooth is switched on.
  • Open your phone’s settings app, find Bluetooth and then find your car – it’ll be named something like “FIAT Bluetooth” or “Ford SYNC” for example, depending on which car you have.
  • Connect your phone to the car – it may ask you to confirm a password (which your car’s infotainment system will present on screen).
  • To load Android Auto on your car, find the Android Auto app on your car’s infotainment system. Tap it and it’ll stop you using your mobile and mirror your phone’s apps onto your car infotainment screen.
  • And that’s it! You’re good to go and you didn’t even need to plug anything in. Bliss.

Android Auto apps

There are a whole host of useful apps that are compatible with Android Auto, including apps that are great for EVs, such as:

Google Maps

You’ll never get lost again with Google Maps integrated into your cars infotainment system. Get real-time route/traffic updates for an accurate estimated time of arrival.


Like Google Maps, Waze is a navigation app that’ll help you get to your destination. Waze is more user-integrated, with other users reporting obstacles they spot on their journey to the app (which then appear on your screen), though Google Maps has more features in general.

Facebook Messenger & WhatsApp

Just like text messaging, you can ask your phone to respond to messages you’ve received on Facebook Messenger or WhatsApp without taking your hands off the wheel. If you’re a social animal, you’ll like this one.


Like your music? Access your playlists, albums and podcasts saved onto your Spotify account through your car.


Another one for those that don’t like driving in silence – get streaming your favourite podcasts and audiobooks with the Audible app.

TuneIn, BBC Sounds, Amazon Music & more

There’s a whole host of apps you can use on the go through Android Auto to make your journey that little bit more entertaining.

Google have curated a full list for you, to make it nice and easy.

Electric cars with Android Auto

Most (if not all!) electric cars now come with Android Auto as standard, including:

Electric cars with wireless Android Auto include:

  • Audi e-tron and e-tron GT
  • BMW iX and i4
  • FIAT 500e
  • Ford Mustang Mach-E
  • Jeep Avenger
  • Kia Niro EV
  • Porsche Taycan
  • And Volkswagen ID.3 & ID.4
A Kia EV9 concept parked at a snowy glacier.

Electric car apps

We dive into some of the best EV orientated apps you can get for your smartphone.

Peugeot e-2008 exterior, front view

Driving an electric car

We go through the key differences when driving an electric car.

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