Here's What You Can Do

If you have an Android phone and drive a car, you should take advantage of Android Auto. This handy feature makes it easy to safely access music, navigation, and other apps while driving.

While Android Auto works with a supported infotainment unit in your car, anyone with a compatible device can use Android Auto right on their phone display. We recommend getting a phone holder for your car to keep it secure if you use this option.

Here are some Android Auto tips and tricks to make the most of the experience.

1. Take Advantage of Google Assistant

Android Auto’s voice commands, powered by Google Assistant, are vital for mastering the feature. Not only does Google Assistant let you access information quickly, but it’s the safest way to do so while driving. You don’t have to reach over to your phone to skip a song, ask a question, or place a call.

If your car features Android Auto integration, you can press the voice command button on your steering wheel to trigger it. Those who use Android Auto on their phone can either tap the microphone icon that shows across the app, or use the “OK Google” voice command.

To make sure you have voice commands enabled, open Android Auto, slide out the left menu, and choose Settings. Tap “Ok Google” detection and make sure you have While driving turned on. As long as you have Android Auto open, Google Assistant will respond even if you have the screen turned off.

Many of the most useful Google Assistant commands

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work while you’re driving too. Of course, not all of this is relevant in the car, but try some of these queries next time you’re on the road:

  • “What’s the news?”
  • “Remind me to buy paper towels in twenty minutes.”
  • “How long will it take to get to Pinewood Park?”
  • “Call Mark.”
  • “Did the Giants win last night?”
  • “Skip this song.”

2. Download Android Auto-Compatible Apps

Android Auto doesn’t support a ton of apps, since it’s designed to reduce distractions while driving. However, it still has a good selection, so you should take a look at what’s on offer.

To view apps compatible with Android Auto, open the app, slide out the left sidebar, and tap Apps for Android Auto. This will bring you to a Google Play Store page containing apps that all work with the feature.

We’ve covered the best Android Auto apps

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before; generally, you’ll find they fall into one of three categories:

  • Music: Pandora, Spotify, YouTube Music, Amazon Music
  • Messaging: Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, Kik, Telegram
  • Radio/News: iHeartRadio, Simple Radio, New York Times, ABC News, dozens of local radio station apps

Otherwise, Google Maps comes built into Android and works with Android Auto. If you prefer Waze, you can use that for navigation in Android Auto instead. Audiobooks in apps like Audible are supported, too.

Any music or radio apps you install will show up in the Music tab of Android Auto (with the headphones icon). Once on that tab, you can tap the icon again to select a different app to listen to. News apps will also show up here, since they’re audio-based.

Messaging apps work a little differently. If you have a compatible messaging app installed, you’ll see a notification appear when you have a new message. You can tap Reply to speak your response, or use the automatic response command to let that chat know you’re driving.

For some apps, you can also mute the conversation to prevent further notifications.

3. Organize Your Android Auto App List

If you use Android Auto on your car display, the home screen contains a list of compatible apps on your device. This can become unruly if you have many apps installed, which you don’t want to distract you while driving.

Thankfully, the app lets you arrange and trim the list of apps in the launcher. In Android Auto, slide out the left menu and choose Settings, then Customize launcher.

The default is A-Z with suggested apps at top, but you can choose Custom order to rearrange them as you see fit. Uncheck a box to remove that app from your launcher’s display. You can’t disable key apps, like Maps or Phone.

4. Specify a Default Music Provider

When you have several music streaming apps installed on your phone, Google Assistant can get confused when you tell it to play a specific song.

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. Without linking your account to Google Assistant, you won’t be able to play your playlists from Spotify. And if you don’t tell the app that you prefer Spotify, you’ll have to say “on Spotify” at the end of every music request. Otherwise, Assistant will just tell you that you aren’t subscribed to YouTube Music.

This is annoying when you’re driving, so make sure to straighten it out ahead of time. In Android Auto, open Settings from the left menu, then tap Google Assistant to open the Google Assistant options for your account.

On this page, scroll to the Services tab and tap Music. You’ll see a list of installed music services; tap the one you want to set as the default. If you see a Link icon, you’ll need to link your account for that service with Google Assistant before setting it as your primary music provider.

Once you’ve done this, general requests like “Play some jazz music” will start playback from your chosen service. If you want to play from another provider, you can still say something like “Play music by Kansas on YouTube Music.”

5. Organize Your Contacts Ahead of Time

On the Phone menu in Android Auto, you can easily access a list of your favorite contacts. Of course, it’s dangerous to scroll through a huge list or type out a search while driving. Thus, you should set up favorites in your contacts for easy access.

To do this, just open your Contacts app. Select a contact, then tap the Star icon in the top-right corner to add them to your favorites. In addition to the panel in Android Auto, you’ll see your favorites at the top the list in the Contacts app.

There’s another important Android Auto tip for making sure your contacts are ready for use while driving: keeping your list clean. If you say “Call Matt” and you have more than one contact matching that name, Assistant will ask you which Matt you wanted. Spending extra time on this will distract you from driving.

For best results, avoid duplicate contacts; add people’s last names if needed to remove ambiguity. Don’t have emoji or other strange characters in a contact’s name that might confuse Google Assistant.

Also double-check if you have contacts split up into multiple entries, perhaps from long ago where you could only store one number per contact. You might not remember you have separate entries for John and John cell when placing a call via Google Assistant, for instance.

6. Tweak Other Android Auto Options

You’re nearly ready to go, now that you have Android Auto commands and tips under your belt. Before you hit the road, though, you should look over a few settings. As before, open Android Auto and slide out the left sidebar, then select Settings.

Tweak the following, if you like:

  • Automatically resume media: Enable this and when you re-launch Android Auto, it will start playing whatever audio you had on before you stopped the car.
  • Weather: Switch this on to show the current temperature and conditions on the top bar of your car’s display.
  • Preview incoming messages: Decide if you want to see previews of messages when your car is stopped.
  • Show (group) message notifications: Disable notifications for individual and/or group messages entirely. Use Android’s notification options if you want finer control.
  • Show media notifications: Turn this off if you don’t want to see a popup when the song or podcast changes.
  • No sound from notifications: If you don’t want to hear your notification tones through your car’s speakers, enable this.
  • Screen on: You can choose when the screen should stay on. If your car doesn’t have Android Auto built-in, you may wish to set this to Always on or When charging so you don’t have to keep turning the screen back on. Be sure to connect a charger for long trips.

Hit the Road With Android Auto

If you were wondering what you can do with Android Auto, now you know. These Android Auto tips and tricks help you get more out of the function and keep you safe on the road.

Remember to be careful while driving, even with these convenient features. Anything that takes your attention away from driving is dangerous.

If you don’t already have it set up, check out how to play music from your phone to your car’s stereo

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so you can enjoy media in the car.

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