How to Use Android Auto Wireless

Learn about connecting your phone to your car radio

This article explains what Android Auto Wireless is, what you need to use it, and how to set it up. Instructions apply to Pixel phones with Android 8 through 11 and Samsung Galaxy phones with Android 9 through 11.

Beginning with Android 12, Google no longer supports the Android Auto app. If you have Android 12 or later, use Google Assistant Driving Mode instead.

How to Use Android Auto Wireless

If both your phone and your car are capable of using Android Auto Wireless, here's how to set it up:

  1. Connect your phone to your car radio with a USB cable.

  2. Follow the on-screen prompts to complete the initial setup procedure.

  3. Disconnect the USB cable.

  4. The next time you get in your car, Android Auto Wireless automatically connects your phone to your car radio and opens.

What Is Android Auto Wireless?

Android Auto is an app that makes your phone safer to use when you're driving. It supports many apps that make your driving experience better. For example, it includes EV charging, parking, and navigation apps to make your travels fluid and seamless. Android Auto lets you access messaging apps, such as WhatsApp, and read and send messages directly from the launcher screen. For safety, you can also let Google Assistant use pre-set replies and messages to minimize driving distractions.

Android Auto also lets you connect your phone to compatible touchscreen car radios, and it's easy to customize Android Auto with a personalized launcher screen and an available dark mode.

Android Auto's functions are accomplished primarily by connecting your phone to your car with a USB cable. Android Auto Wireless allows you to keep that connection after removing the USB cable.

The main benefit of Android Auto Wireless is that you don't need to plug and unplug your phone every time you go somewhere. If you're planning a long trip or your phone needs a charge, you can plug it in. Otherwise, Android Auto Wireless automatically connects your phone to your car radio when you get in your vehicle (after the initial USB cable connection).

A car dashboard with Android auto on the screen

Lifewire / Luyi Wang

How Android Auto Wireless Works

Most connections between phones and car radios use Bluetooth. It's how most hands-free calling implementations work, and you can also stream music over Bluetooth. However, Bluetooth connections don't have the bandwidth required by Android Auto Wireless.

To achieve a wireless connection between your phone and your car, Android Auto Wireless taps into the Wi-Fi functionality of your phone and your car radio. It only works with vehicles that have Wi-Fi functionality.

Compatibility is further limited to specific car radios and phones designed to work with the system.

When a compatible phone pairs with a compatible car radio, Android Auto Wireless works like the wired version, only without wires. Your phone does all the heavy lifting, the information is on your touchscreen car radio, and things like driving directions and answers that you ask Google Assistant play through the car speakers.

What You Need to Use Android Auto Wirelessly

If you want to use Android Auto wirelessly, you need two things: a compatible car radio that has built-in Wi-Fi and a compatible Android phone. Most head units that work with Android Auto and most phones capable of running Android Auto can't use the wireless functionality.

Here's what you need to start using Android Auto Wireless:

  • A compatible head unit: Your car radio, or head unit, needs to be capable of running Android Auto. It also needs to have Wi-Fi, and it needs to be certified to use its Wi-Fi connection in this manner.
  • A compatible phone: Your Android phone needs to be running Android 8.0 Oreo through Android 11 if it's a Pixel phone. The Samsung Galaxy S8 series and Note 8 series, and newer, support Android Audio Wireless if they're running Android 9.0 Pie through Android 11.

Can Other Phones and Head Units Use Android Auto Wirelessly?

While Android Auto is available in any car on your phone and can integrate with many original and aftermarket equipment car radios, the wireless compatibility is much more limited. If your phone or car radio doesn't support Android Auto Wireless, all you can do is wait for an update that may or may not come.

Advanced users can use Android Auto Wireless with almost any head unit capable of running Android Auto, but it takes a lot of extra work. It's an unofficial method discovered by an Android enthusiast, so Google doesn't support it.

To use this method, you need:

  • An Android TV stick
  • A USB cable
  • A head unit that can run Android Auto

The basic idea is that the Android TV stick acts as a Wi-Fi antenna for the car radio, connecting wirelessly with your phone. It's a lot more complicated than that, and it requires a lot of tinkering that's too much for most users. Still, it is an option for anyone with the necessary experience and expertise.

FAQ
  • Is there a way to turn off Android Auto?

    Go to Settings > Apps > Android Auto. At the bottom of the screen, tap Disable. Tap Disable app when prompted.

  • Can I connect Android Auto without a USB cable?

    You can make Android Auto Wireless work with an incompatible headset using an Android TV stick and a USB cable. However, most Android devices have been updated to include Android Auto Wireless. For the initial connection, you need to connect Android Auto to your car stereo with a USB. After connecting with a USB, Android Auto automatically and wirelessly connects your phone to your car stereo.

  • Which cars support Android Auto Wireless?

    Most cars built in 2020 and later support Android Auto Wireless, and according to Android, availability for compatible vehicles and stereos is rapidly increasing. Consult your automobile manufacturer to confirm compatibility.

  • Why am I having trouble connecting Android Auto to my car?

    If you're having issues connecting wirelessly, check that your Android OS is updated and Android Auto is on in your vehicle's infotainment system. If you're using a USB cable and have a compatible car, you probably need to use a new or higher-quality USB cable that's under six feet long. Quality USB cables include the USB icon.

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