In-car infotainment systems powered by Google’s Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are increasingly being found in new vehicles, and customers often weigh that support heavily when choosing a vehicle to purchase. Up until this point, all versions of Android Auto have required a physical connection with your car via a USB cable to function. However, Android Auto over Wi-Fi is finally ready for primetime.
Both JVC and Kenwood currently have Android Auto-compatible head units that support Wi-Fi connectivity, but software support wasn’t enabled on Google’s side. That changes with Android Auto v3.1. According to Android Police, users will first need to connect their compatible smartphone with a USB cable to their car (or aftermarket head unit) to complete the initial setup. However, once that setup is complete, you’re free to wirelessly enjoy Android Auto features on your car’s display screen while your phone remains in your pocket, purse or sits on a wireless charging pad.
In addition to needing a car that has native support for Android Auto over Wi-Fi or an aftermarket head unit with support, there are also a few other boxes that need to be checked. For starters, you will need to have a recent Google Nexus or Pixel smartphone to enable this functionality. The Nexus 5X and Nexus 6P are supported, as are the Pixel/Pixel 2 and Pixel XL/Pixel XL 2 smartphones. Secondly, the smartphones will need to have Android 8.0 Oreo installed. Finally, you will need to have v3.1 of the Android Auto app installed on your device.
Apple CarPlay has technically supported wireless connectivity for quite some time, but only the current generation BMW 5-Series (that we know of) has native support for the standard on supported iPhones. There are, however, aftermarket head units like the Alpine iLX-107 that will add support to your vehicle (if you have a double DIN-sized hole in your dash).