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Android Auto just got a useful upgrade — what you need to know

Android Auto screen with apps including waze, spotify and youtube music
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

Update: The Android Auto redesign is now official, and here's our first look



Android Auto just got a brand new upgrade. But rather than offering any new software or design changes, as have been rumored, it’s going to be able to check your USB cable and make sure nothing is going wrong.

XDA’s Mishall Rahman tweeted (opens in new tab) screenshots of this new diagnostic tool in action. Since the USB connection is usually where Android Auto problems lie, this means you can figure out if the problem is with the USB cable or something else. 

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Rahman notes that the tool is checking if Android is able to send data via USB - something that isn’t possible if you’re using a damaged cable or are connected to the wrong port in your car. Because not all in-car USB ports are created equally, and any extra ports you have aren’t likely to have a data connection. 

Google itself recommends using the cable that came with your phone, or alternatively one that’s under three feet long and doesn’t have any “USB hubs or cable extensions”. Though that’s a bit rich coming from a company that ships its devices with USB-C to USB-C cables, while Android Auto connections typically happen with USB-A.

Unfortunately, it’s difficult to tell if a cable is Android Auto friendly until you plug it in. Quality varies from manufacturer to manufacturer, and you do need a cable capable of transmitting data, rather than just power. That dirt-cheap cable you got on Amazon or eBay might not have what it takes, though you clearly don’t want to buy premium cable that costs twice as much as it should.

At least with the new Android Auto update you can check your cables, and find out whether they’re a problem or not.

Rahman claims that the tool is available in Android Auto 7.5.121104, though it’s not rolled out to everyone just yet. You can access the diagnostics by opening up Android Auto’s settings menu and hitting Connection help > USB startup diagnostics.

Tom is the Tom's Guide's Automotive Editor, which means he can usually be found knee deep in stats the latest and best electric cars, or checking out some sort of driving gadget. It's long way from his days as editor of Gizmodo UK, when pretty much everything was on the table. He’s usually found trying to squeeze another giant Lego set onto the shelf, draining very large cups of coffee, or complaining that Ikea won’t let him buy the stuff he really needs online.