PSA: Here’s Why Android Auto Needs your Phone Plugged In

May 23, 2015 - Written By Alexander Maxham

There’s been talk about why Android Auto can’t be done solely over Bluetooth. And why we need to plug in our phone to actually use it. The reason is actually quite simple. Power. I’m sure you’ve used Google Maps and Navigation before, you know it takes quite a bit of power to be used, especially when you’re on LTE or even HSPA+. It’s the same thing with Android Auto. The data flow from your phone to your car is quite heavy and drains the battery in your phone. So it needs to be plugged in while driving with Android Auto to keep your phone at the same battery level or charged up a bit more.

Just as an example, I drove to the airport last week when I was heading to NYC for ASUS’ Zenfone 2 event. It’s about a 35-40 minute drive, and I had Google Maps going as well as streaming Spotify. I was running it off of the HTC One M9, and it was at about 85% when I plugged it in, when I got to the airport, it was at about 89%. Now if it hadn’t been plugged in, it would have likely been closer to about 30% of lower. So until Google can find a way to transfer all that data from your phone to the car and use less battery, you’re going to need to plug it in. I’m sure there are some other reasons why it needs to be plugged in as well, but that’s the most popular reason as to why.

It’s also important to remember that Android Auto is still very new. Very, very new. We’re talking about 2-3 months old right now, even though it was announced at Google I/O last year. We’re going to see lots of changes taking place with Android Auto over the next few months and even years. And while having to connect to Android Auto via Bluetooth and USB is a bit annoying, especially if you’re only going to be driving for a few minutes, it’s what we have to do. At least for now.