Android Auto sucks, and it is just not getting any better. This is a continuously updated post where I will list whenever something is not working. I want to prefix this by saying that I am using the stable release trains of Android and Android Auto on my stock Google Pixel 5. One couldn’t have a more pure Android experience on the phone, and still, things do not work the way one would imagine them to.
In general, my concerns with Android Auto can be categorized into two themes:
- Poor Reliability (PR): Stuff works 1 out of 3 times, then fails in ways that render the system useless. I know that (sufficient) network isn’t always available, and so things can’t always work, but the same is true for mobiles in general and they do have reasonable ways around it. It seems to me as if Android Auto assumes there is always connectivity, and if it isn’t, then it just can’t recover.
- Missing (or Regressed) Features
Android Auto could be so much better if … it were like Apple Car Play?
The list of complaints
- Saturday, Dec. 31st 2022: After declining a call on the mobile (for whatever reason, I still cannot accept or decline incoming WhatsApp calls in Android Auto, but have to do it on the phone) twice, my phone wouldn’t connect to the car anymore. At all. I had to stop the car, lock it, wait outside for a minute and try again before I could get it to connect to Android Auto again.
- On June, 24th, 2022, Android Auto while navigating on Google Maps, just completely froze and did not update anymore. When I re-connected, the car did launch Android Auto but the screen stayed black. Only rebooting the mobile helped. This was very frustrating because I was in an area with many turns unknown to me.
- Since 2022: Whenever I am switching over songs in Spotify via Google Assistant, I would expect the song to start playing automatically (particularly, if I was listening to Spotify before). This is the behavior it shows on Apple Car Play, and it works always there. In Android Auto, before sometime in 2022, you had to manually navigate to the Play button because after switching songs, the default state of the player would be paused. Annoying (and a small fix, one might think), but at least that was reliable. Since medio-2022, the song auto-plays, but almost always without sending any sound. So the icon on Spotify shows ‘playing’, but no sound comes out. To get it to work, click the pause button, wait for some time, pray 3 times to the Greek nymph Echo, who can only sing, not talk, and hit the play button again. If you are lucky, the song begins. If not, it might begin in a couple of seconds. Or not at all. Repeat until you are either gone crazy, hit an obstacle in front of your car, or do get some sound out.
- Since 2021: Whenever I activate Google voice assistant (e.g., via the steering wheel button on my Mercedes), the background sound should get silenced so the mic can record what I am saying. Instead, what happens is that the music gets elevated for the first three seconds of the mic being active, then suddenly stops. Super strange behavior. I assume what they intended for is for the sound to fade out over the three seconds, but this never worked.