Android Auto is standard equipment in the 10th Generation Honda Accord. And that is the primary reason why I replaced my 2006 Toyota Camry Hybrid with a Honda Accord instead of another Toyota Camry. I had previously used Android Auto directly on my Pixel and Pixel 2, mounted with a magnetic mount to air vent.
Flaws of Android Auto on Phone
Though having Android Auto on the phone is a cost effective way to upgrade your old car that is not yet ready for upgrade, it has it's flaws. The two main challenge are that you can only use one source of audio at a time and a phone's microphone is not up to par.
- Although you can connected Android Auto on your smartphone with Bluetooth, this will prevent you from using your car radio (source 1) while using Android Auto for navigation (source 2). It's one sound source or the other. Now if you stream Spotify while using Android Auto, you'll be fine.
- Secondly, the microphone is on your phone can have trouble picking up your voice, especially if you hear a lot of road noise. A car's built in microphone is a much more effective way to communicate with Android Auto.
Advantage of Android Auto in Honda Accord (10th Gen)
Having Android Auto built directly into the car's infotainment system does overcome the main problems with using Android Auto Directly on phone. There are also many additional benefits with how Android Auto can be extended to other hardware features of a car.
- Since Android Auto is part of the infotainment system, I can listen to the radio and use Google Maps navigation.
- Next, I can communicate to Android Auto with the same microphone I use in my car when I talk on the phone over Bluetooth. In addition, I don't have to "trigger" Android Auto with "Ok Google". Instead, I can use a physical button on the steering wheel (press and hold the talk button).
- Android Auto integrates very well with Google Calendars, which I put all my appointments (including addresses). In most cases, I just tap a button on the Android Auto touchscreen. If for whatever reason I forget to add an appointment, I can verbally tell Android Auto where to I want to go based on the name of the location or the address. Google can get the address right 95% of the time and the location name is about 70% correct (trouble with non-english location).
- Specifically to Honda Accord (10th generation) Touring, which is equipped with a Heads Up Display (HUD). While navigating, the HUD will display the next step of navigation directly on the windshield. Note that this isn't true of every car, as I was disappointed that Android Auto instructions are not mirrored onto Audi's Virtual Cockpit.
Suggestions for Improvement in Android Auto
Now that I've used Android Auto both directly on the smartphone and on a car's built in infotainment system, there is room for improvement. Both in terms of hardware, software, and bugs in the system.
- Requires a USB-C cable to function. The issue with the USB-C cable is that not all USB-C cables are the same, and most of the cables have ~one inch long connector to the cable, which unfortunately makes is not fit well in the storage space of Honda Accord. Note that wireless Android Auto is currently under development, but not very widespread in distribution. There are wireless Android Auto systems available to replace your car's existing infotainment system.
- Bugs in Android Auto do occur. The one software glitch that occurs in my car (not sure if it's a Google or Honda problem), but the state of the audio out vs audio in which I trigger Android Auto is mixed up. Meaning when I trigger "Ok Google", I'll hear music. When Android Auto is finished processing input audio, then the speakers go quiet. Luckily, the solution is to re-plug the USB-C cable.
- Now that Android Auto is so convenient, the custom phrases linked to specific apps is lacking. It is irritating when Android Auto replies with "Not Understood" when I communicate with apps such as Spotify or Stitcher radio.
- The road is not always smooth, so its every once in awhile, the USB-C cable wiggles loose, though it is still physically connected. But that's enough to loose connection to Android Auto. The only solution is to completely re-seat the cable, which requires two hands. Depending on the driving situation, re-seating the cable is dangerous to do while actively driving.