Android Auto Just Caught Up to Apple CarPlay with This

Given tech companies' romance with cutting the wires out of everything from listening to music to charging your phone, it's somewhat surprising that most Apple CarPlay and Android Auto systems still require a wired connection to display through your car's head unit.

Fortunately, that's beginning to change. Last year, Alpine introduced the first aftermarket head unit with wireless CarPlay support. Now, Google is following suit.

A post from a Google representative made on the official Android Auto User Community confirms that the company has enabled wireless connectivity for specific phones and head units equipped with the feature. So far only Google's handsets, including the Pixel 2, Pixel 2 XL, Pixel, Pixel XL, Nexus 6P and 5X are supported, though Google says it is "actively working" with other Android phone makers to expand compatibility and "hopes to share more updates soon."

To set up wireless Android Auto, you'll need to make sure your device is running at least version 8.0 of the operating system, and at least version 3.1 of the Android Auto app. A USB cable is necessary for initialization.

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You'll also obviously need the proper head unit. As of now, only the latest offerings from JVC and Kenwood are capable of wirelessly interfacing with Android Auto, but that too should change for the better now that Google has started rolling out updates on the phone side of things.

While manufacturers of aftermarket infotainment systems are leading the charge toward wireless CarPlay and Android Auto, car companies are falling behind. Many new vehicles today support one or both standards, but relatively few do so without the need of a cable. BMW is one of the lone automakers that has built the feature into new models — for iPhone users, anyway.

Still, all of this is little consolation for people who have recently purchased a car or head unit, that will miss out on the convenience of wireless connectivity. Perhaps Google could release a USB dongle that drivers could plug into their cars to achieve the same effect? Road warriors can dream.

Image Credit: Google

Adam Ismail is a staff writer at Jalopnik and previously worked on Tom's Guide covering smartphones, car tech and gaming. His love for all things mobile began with the original Motorola Droid; since then he’s owned a variety of Android and iOS-powered handsets, refusing to stay loyal to one platform. His work has also appeared on Digital Trends and GTPlanet. When he’s not fiddling with the latest devices, he’s at an indie pop show, recording a podcast or playing Sega Dreamcast.