Android Auto Tips and Tricks: How to Maximize Your Experience

Aren’t you glad the days of relying on Bluetooth are over? An increasing number of cars are now available with Android Auto, a smartphone-mirroring feature allowing drivers to stay connected on the road. Here are a few tips to help you get the most out of your experience with Android Auto.

Don’t Be Afraid to Ask Google

We’ve encountered plenty of cars with poor voice-recognition systems, but Google Assistant—Android Auto’s version of Siri—picks up voice commands quite well. Rather than fiddle with the touchscreen, sometimes it’s easier to ask Google Assistant to take you to the nearest Starbucks, call your best friend, or remind you what’s on your calendar. The personal assistant even has a sense of humor, as associate editor Eleonor Segura points out, recalling one of her favorite jokes. If you ask Google Assistant what’s on its mind, the system may answer: “I was just thinking about how nice it can be to unplug. Sometimes it’s better to connect with people rather than Wi-Fi.”

Google Assistant can be particularly helpful once it gets to know you. You can allow Google Assistant to provide personalized suggestions and reminders based on your calendar. You can also enter in your cuisine and dietary preferences for restaurant recommendations.

Customize Your Android Auto Experience

Of course, not every smartphone app is compatible with Android Auto. But many of them are, so you’ll want to organize them in a way that makes sense on your car’s touchscreen. Fortunately, it’s easy to select which apps appear and in what order. Go to the Android Auto app on your phone, hit Settings, and click Customize Launcher. From there, you can check which Android Auto-compatible apps you want to show up on your touchscreen. Drag an app up or down on your phone to change the order it’s displayed on the car’s touchscreen.

Integrating Calendar and Navigation

If you’re not making the most of your phone’s calendar, this might change your mind. Put an event on your calendar with the address, and Google can navigate you directly there from your calendar. In Android Auto, just prompt Google to go to your calendar, and hit the arrow button on the touchscreen to start navigation via Google Maps.

Speaking of navigation, you can view current traffic conditions by hitting the gear button on the Google Maps screen; associate editor Billy Rehbock points out this can be helpful if you’re driving in a busy city.

Sorry, Not Sorry. I’m Putting You on Mute.

Everyone has a friend who texts a little too much. For this situation, Android Auto gives you the option to mute specific conversations. Just click “mute conversation” when an unwanted message pops up on the touchscreen. If you want to avoid getting group message notifications while you’re driving, you can mute those by going to the Android Auto app settings on your phone.

Play Games on Your Car’s Touchscreen

If you find yourself with some time to kill in a parking lot, try playing games with Android Auto. Click on the GameSnacks icon on your screen, and pick from a handful of easy-to-load games including Pin the UFO and 2048 Giant. I was a bit skeptical about the functionality at first, but the games worked well and featured crisp graphics on my 2021 Nissan Rogue’s touchscreen. The experience is made complete with sound effects coming through the car’s stereo system.

Top Android Auto Tips and Tricks:

  • Use Google Assistant to make calls, send texts, and navigate you around town
  • Rearrange the apps on your car’s touchscreen through your phone’s Android Auto app
  • Include an address with an event on your calendar, and Google Maps will take you there
  • Mute unwanted text conversations
  • Play games on your car’s touchscreen

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