Hands On With Google's Wireless Android Auto Head Units - I/O 2018

Wireless Android Auto is actually something that Google announced last year at Google I/O, but it was a bit of a weird announcement - where it only worked with particular head units and vehicle models. Now, Google is showing these off in earnest at Google I/O this year, and are also explaining why only some head units and vehicle models support it. The skinny here is, the fact that they need WiFi built-in. So if you have a vehicle that has Android Auto and has an AT&T 4G LTE connection, then it should be supported (if not now, in the future when it gets certified). This is because Bluetooth is not powerful enough to power the display on its own, so it needs WiFi. Which makes everything faster anyways. Now with wireless Android Auto, it does still need Bluetooth to connect for making phone calls, but the rest of it is done over WiFi.

There are two models here that Google is showing off. There's the Pioneer AVIC-W8400NEX, which is going to be available later this month, and then the JVC Kenwood DDX9905S head unit, that is currently available. Both of these work identical and provide the same Android Auto experience. There is a USB port available if you do want to charge your device while you're in the car, otherwise, it's the same Android Auto experience as a wired version, except, it'll connect as soon as you get in the car, which is always nice.

These two models do sport the new enhancements to Android Auto that were announced at Google I/O this year, which includes the new media experience. For example, now you can get search results on the head unit, which groups the results by song name, artist, genre and such. Giving you a closer experience to using the app. Additionally, you get bigger tap targets in your library, with bigger album art. It not only looks nicer, but it is easier to tap on when you are driving, so that you don't have to take your eyes off of the road. That's the real reason here, besides making it look better.

Wireless Android Auto is something that Google expects to become more mainstream in the future, as more third-party head units and car makers start to support it. Remember the main thing holding it back is the fact that it needs a WiFi chip built-in. Which is actually becoming more mainstream itself, that is partially due to AT&T putting it into more vehicles than ever before. It won't be long before every vehicle is on-board, and before every wireless carrier is pushing its Internet service into vehicles. Wireless Android Auto is a beautiful thing, but remember, it's still going to use a fair amount of juice from your phone. So it's a good idea to place it on a wireless charger (if your car has one) or simply plug it in. Even while plugged in, you can still use the wireless method - meaning connecting over WiFi instead of Bluetooth - which provides you with a more seamless experience.

Pioneer AVIC-W8400NEX

JVC Kenwood DDX9905S

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About the Author
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Alexander Maxham

Section Editor
Alex has written for Androidheadlines since 2012 as Editor of the site and traveled the World to many of the biggest Smartphone and Technology events. Alex has a background in Technology and IT and Deep Passion for Everything Android and Google. His specialties lay in Smartphones of all budgets, Accessories, Home Automation and more. Contact him at [email protected]
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