Are there Android CarPlay aftermarket head units

What is Android Auto and is it better than just using a cell phone in your car?

These days, more and more people are turning to their phones for GPS and music in the car. And why not? Google Maps is far better than the Lame system built into your vehicle. Accessing Android Auto: The best of your phone but integrated into the main unit of your dashboard.

CONNECTED:What is Apple CarPlay and is it better than just using a cell phone in your car?

What is Android Auto?

In its simplest form, Android Auto is exactly what it sounds like: it's Android for your car. It's not an enlarged version of the phone interface, but it should feel very familiar to anyone who is already using Android. It has a home screen, built-in Google Maps, and support for a wide variety of audio applications. Plus, virtually everything uses voice control so you can keep your eyes on the road. It reads your texts to you and enables you to answer with a simple voice command, start an app, navigate to a place or play music. Just as Android Wear is an Android companion that you wear on your wrist, Auto is a companion that is in the car.

Android Auto comes in three forms. You can either buy a car with Android Auto built in (as is the case with many 2017 models), buy an accessory headunit and have it installed, or use the app version on your phone.

The first method is of course the easiest and arguably the best way to use Android Auto. However, if you are unable to buy a new car (especially just Car) then it is also the most inconvenient. This is where the second choice comes in: Several car radio manufacturers are currently jumping into the Android Auto game, with companies like JBL, Kenwood and Pioneer at the forefront.

This is the direction I went with my 2013 Kia Sorento - I've had the car for a little over a year, so getting a new vehicle just for the in-car experience was out of the question. A new head unit is a much more practical, if quite expensive, option. I ended up with a Kenwood DDX9903S as the main unit as it seemed to have the best features and was future proof for the money.

More recently, there is also a third option: the car app for Android. As announced by Google in early 2016, Android Auto has found its way to cell phones. While the experience is very similar to that of a head unit, there are definitely some notable differences as well. We'll take a closer look at these below.

For all head unit options, the core of Android Auto is the same. Like any other main device, you have a touchscreen that gives you quick access to the weather, directions to recently searched places, and music. The user interface is very similar to your Android phone. At the bottom are buttons for Maps, Phone, Home, Music and the final button that allows you to exit Auto and return to the main unit's primary user interface.

Of course, Android Auto isn't a standalone product, it's essentially powered by your phone. You connect your phone to the car via USB, and the phone communicates with the car via USB and At the same time Bluetooth - depending on what it is doing. For example, music is played via USB, but calls are made via Bluetooth. And since your phone stays connected, it will always be charged.

Much like Android Wear, Auto has an app that runs on your smartphone that does all the heavy lifting for you. As soon as you install the app and connect the phone to a car unit, the smartphone is paired via Bluetooth and everything else is handled via the USB connection. There is very little that the user has to do to get started. This is the same app that runs the phone-based user interface. However, we will cover this in detail below.

Once everything is up and running, you can just toss the phone in the console, on your lap, or wherever. From that point on, it becomes essentially unusable - Auto comes to the fore of the phone, removing access to all controls except Home and Back. The idea is to take your eyes off your phone while driving. It is wise.

The safety features don't stop when you're on the phone; either - the car itself has certain built-in safety features. For example, in things like Pandora or Google Play Music, you can only flip through three pages if the parking brake is not on. This can make it incredibly frustrating to find a particular playlist or song, especially when it's in the bottom half of a list.

But that's fine - the idea is yours, everything with your vote. Instead of scrolling through the music playing, tap the microphone, then say, "Play the end of In Flames on Google Play Music." That way you can keep your hands on the wheel and your eyes on the road. (Unfortunately there is no "Ok Google" hotword like on some cell phones.)

Voice actions don't really stop there either. Since it is essentially using Google Now, pretty much anything you would ask now can be asked. Things like "How tall is Jimmy Butler?" Or "What was the name of the first Impending Doom album?" If it's more of a general Google search (e.g., "Chicago Bulls 2016-2017 Schedule"), the "Automatic" feature doesn't really work. It's just not meant for that.

And as you'd expect, the navigation is fantastic. It was always a breeze for me to tell him to navigate to certain places large Experience. I installed my head unit just before vacation, so I used the navigation much During this time. It's so nice to see a 7 inch screen with the map instead of just fiddling with a phone.

Where Android Auto falls short

Android Auto isn't perfect, of course. The biggest problem I ran into was voice control. Sometimes it worked fine, sometimes it struggled to understand what I wanted. For example, when I say, “Play my In Flames playlist on Google Play Music,” the company doesn't know what I want to do with it. Not fully aware of what playlists in Play Music are. It is also sometimes difficult with Pandora stations: When I say "Play Alice in Chains radio on Pandora", my Alice in Chains radio station is not always played, but the station that was last played is simply started. It only starts Pandora because it doesn't know what to do with "Play Alice in Chains" radio. “I've gotten much better results with“ Play Alice in Chains on Pandora. ”I'd like to think it should be smart enough to know the difference, but maybe I'm asking too much.

It's also about the cost. Whenever you get a new car, you can add car to your want list and be done with it. But when you add Android Auto to your existing car, things get expensive quickly. Android Auto Head Units can cost $ 500 at the bottomand if you don't know how tech modern car audio systems can be, they essentially require professional installation. So at the end of the day, you're looking at around $ 800 to a minimum get in an aftermarket auto unit - over $ 1000 if you want something really good (seriously, the low-end models come with old, crappy resistive touchscreens. You don't want that.) if you don't have any significant disposable income, can it would be difficult to justify such a price, if at all.

So if you already have a phone and a cheap dock, why spend hundreds of dollars on an Android Auto unit?

Android Auto on your phone

The Android Auto app on your phone is similar to a main unit, with some notable differences. For example, most auto-head devices have significantly larger displays than even the largest Android phones. My Kenwood DDX9903S has a 7-inch display compared to the 5.5-inch panel on my Pixel XL. While this may seem like a relatively insignificant difference on paper, in practice it is pretty much anything much Better to see from the driver's seat, especially when compared to the phone in a docking station.

As for the interface, the car phone's experience is quite similar to that of a head unit, although the layout is a little different. It is still designed to be easy to use in the car. It just stands out of the way so you can focus on what matters most: the road. I mean, lives are at stake out there so under no circumstances should you be playing with your phone while you are driving. Fortunately, running it automatically on the phone can make this a lot easier to avoid.

Once the app starts, a totally different experience than what you see on your handset is forced: everything is huge, the controls are simple. The controls are at the bottom - much like the auto head unit - with the same options we saw above. However, when you switch your phone to landscape mode, the controls move to the right.

As with the car experience, the menu is found in the top left corner. The content of this menu changes depending on what is in the foreground. For example, if you're using Google Play Music, the menu has links to your recent activity, playlists, and the like. However, if you are on the home screen, you will find the "Settings" and "About" menus in the menu. It's very intuitive, if a little more limited than the way menus work on head units.

Speaking of settings, there are some interesting features like the auto-reply option that lets you reply to a text message with custom text while driving. The default option is "I'm driving now". However, you can change this. There are also options to turn off Wi-Fi when Auto is running (to save battery) and to start Auto automatically when a particular Bluetooth connection is detected. This can be very useful if you have a bluetooth head unit in your car. As soon as the phone is connected, Auto takes over. Very cool.

Where the phone experience falls short

Of course, there are downsides to just using your phone. Personally, I had metric tons from problems with phones hot and even overheating when playing music and navigating while charging in a dock on the dashboard. There's only a lot going on at once, and the dashboard of the car is a stupid hot place in the summer. I live in Texas, also known as the surface of the sun. The number of times the phones restarted or shut down after overheating is astounding.

When it comes to multitasking and efficiency, auto-head devices are better than making calls in the car in almost every way. While on vacation, I used my main device for navigation, music, texting, and phone calls - essentially anything it can - and it never missed a beat. The music was automatically paused when a call or text came in and then immediately started again. The navigation was always up to date, with constant traffic information and notifications of faster routes as they became available. While the phone can I often find it slower and clunkier - when the phone warms up (because it's doing several things at the same time when the screen is on), it just gets sluggish. In addition, while the user interface of the car head unit is very similar, it is more efficient. For example, on practically every screen it has two menus - one for the app and one for the system - where the phone app has to put everything together in one menu.

In my opinion, aside from the cost, auto head units are better.

Is an Android Auto Head Unit worth the money?

Ultimately, it's a built-in Android Auto System, better than just using the phone - but is it $ 1000 better? To put it simply: no. The auto app now offers 95% of everything that makes Android auto head units great, at 0 percent the cost. You can't really beat that.

But when it comes to actual use, I'd take a head over device every time with just my phone. After using only one phone for music and navigation in the car (via Bluetooth) for years, my car head-unit is a breath of fresh air.

So if you are in the market for a new car there is no real reason to be Not Get one with Auto-Built-In. It's great to have. But if your current car doesn't have an upgrade to an Android Auto ECU and you're thinking of upgrading it, it's probably better to just ... not. Your phone can basically cover most bases and save you a lot of money. Really, there is no comparison.