Android Auto has become an irreplaceable system for many up-to-date drivers because it enables you to use your Android phone through the central infotainment screen. This means that you are able to make calls during driving without putting yourself, your passengers or anyone else around you in danger.
Furthermore, Android Auto enables you to use Google Maps or Waze as your primary navigation system which is rather beneficial because no in-house car navigation system even comes close to these two. You can also use your music apps such as Spotify, Pandora, or Audible.
Given the fact that an average car in the US is somewhere between 11 and 12 years old, it’s obvious that not everyone can enjoy Android Auto from the get-go. As such, you will need to either retrofit a system by buying a higher-end infotainment system or simply buying the Android Auto option if your car already has all the necessities built-in.
You can also buy an aftermarket system and mount it beside your existing infotainment screen or even replace it entirely. The best way to do it is to retrofit it if possible, if not, you should consider the other two methods.
Retrofitting Android Auto into a used car
Not all manufacturers have correctly predicted how important Android Auto and Apple Car Play are going to become. This means that some used cars out there have actually everything they need for Android Auto but the feature was not included from the factory.
A few years ago Mazda said that you can buy the OEM Android Auto system if your car is already equipped with the Mazda MZD Connect System. Hyundai has also rolled out a similar system for most of their post-2015 cars even though they were originally not offered with Android Auto.
Retrofitting Android Auto this way ensures the cleanest and most sophisticated integration, but it’s not available for most cars. You should contact your dealer and ask if you can retrofit Android Auto from the factory, if so, be sure to opt for this option as it also ensures a higher resale value.
Buying a brand-new infotainment screen/system
A few decades or so people were more likely to buy an aftermarket audio/infotainment system and mount it in their car. This meant taking out the OEM system because it was lagging behind the aftermarket systems offered by brands such as Kenwood, Pioneer, or Alpina.
However, this trend is almost gone these days because automakers catch up with the rest of the industry and now there is no need to do so. That being said, if your car is from such an era the only way how you can integrate Android Auto inside your car is by investing in a brand new head unit and replacing it with your existing one.
Even though this is mostly a solution used for older cars some owners prefer doing so even for newer cars. The basic level screens in cars like the 2011 and on BMW 3 and 4-series have often been replaced with larger infotainment screens because they both look nicer and offer more functionality while retaining all the factory options as well.
Buying a separate head unit
The last and the least sophisticated method of getting Android Auto in your car is to invest in a separate head unit and mount it beside your existing infotainment screen. These systems mostly fall within the “double-DIN” head unit categories but be sure to check that as some older cars still use “single-DIN” head units.
Systems such as these are beneficial if you want to unlock a bunch of additional features as well. These often come with backup cameras or Sirius XM radio. Adding a new head unit is likely the easiest way how you can get Android Auto in your car without having to take out or replace the existing infotainment screen.
These units can easily be disconnected when it comes time to sell the car and can often be used between different cars. Either way, you should consider this option if you are okay with the fact that your interior packs aftermarket screens and if this is the only way you can get Android Auto anyway.
Is Android Auto worth it?
If you use an Android device as your daily driver, Android Auto is certainly worth it if you also tend to use your phone while driving. The ability to integrate your Android apps within the system makes it easy to use your phone and its apps while driving which means that you will not be endangering anyone.
However, some people don’t even use Android Auto because you can get a similar experience with using a phone mount inside your car and connecting it with your car through Bluetooth. This will also enable you to listen to your music and make calls without interruptions. As far as navigation is concerned, you can use it directly on your phone’s screen.
Is Android Auto better than Apple Car Play?
Comparing Android Auto and Apple CarPlay is like comparing apples and oranges because both of these are equally as good. If you use an iPhone as your daily phone chances are that you will prefer Apple CarPlay, on the other hand, if you are using an Android, you are likely going to prefer Android Auto.
Either way, both of these are equally as useful and you should not have any issues using these on a daily basis.
Are OEM infotainment systems good enough?
OEM infotainment systems were never really all that good because they always lagged a few years behind state-of-the-art smartphones. However, the last few years saw manufacturers like Tesla, Audi, BMW, and Mercedes making huge strides in the infotainment department because their infotainment systems now use integrated graphics cars for optimal resolution and performance.
As such, modern-day infotainment systems are indeed good enough, but not all manufacturers offer such systems. Either way, as technology keeps progressing rapidly, chances are that infotainment systems will always lag behind smartphones.