Kenwood has now confirmed most Android phones will need to be running Android P (at a minimum) to be compatible with wireless Android Auto. The confirmation on this came by way of a press release from Kenwood sent out to coincide with Google’s annual developer conference, and which looked to confirm how the company already supports the wireless version. As per that announcement, the company’s DNX995S, DDX9905S, DMX905S, DNX875S and DDX9705S units all already support wireless Android Auto, with the company making it very clear there are no issues from its side. Instead, highlighting how the current limitation of compatible smartphones is what is slowing down adoption.
Kenwood goes on to confirm that only the first and second-generation Pixel and Pixel XL smartphones, along with the Nexus 5X and 6P currently support wireless Android Auto from the smartphone side. Although the company “fully expect more smartphone makers to enable the functionality in their devices” in due course. Speaking of which, and in spite of Kenwood acknowledging for any and all other “device manufacturers” wireless Android Auto will not be available unless the device has been updated to Android P, Kenwood did confirm the current -- Google affiliated -- devices are compatible while running Android 8.0 (Oreo). Google first announced announced Pixel and Nexus Wireless Android Auto support back in April and at that time also confirmed Android Oreo as the technical minimum requirement for those devices - the same minimum requirement that is still listed on Google’s support pages for Android Auto. As as result there is no clear explanation as to why the difference exists.
In either case, while wireless Android Auto is considered a new feature, it is not as new as might be assumed as the feature was first shown off at last year’s I/O event and is currently on show again at this year's event to showcase the developments since then, such as the already-mentioned Nexus and Pixel support. As can be assumed by the name, the main selling point is the wireless nature as the Android Auto implementation most will already be familiar with is largely dependent on a smartphone being connected to the Android Auto unit via a wire.