1. Phil Nickinson's Avatar
    Just wanted to jot down my thoughts on what I'm currently seeing with what I'm using.

    Phone: LG G4 on T-Mobile (Android 5.1 build LMY47D software version H81110h)
    Head unit/car: Pioneer 4100NEX in a 2005 Honda Civic. (Baller.)

    Overall I love Android Auto. I think it's probably the safest UI I've ever had in a car. But lately things have been ... not so good. The G4 used to perform flawlessly. But recently AA has started to take a good 10 to 15 seconds to launch — if it launches at all. More and more I'm getting the "Can't connect right now, wait until it's safe" screen — when parked as well as if I'm backing out the driveway. That's not fun. It used to seem like it'd help to plug in after the Pioneer booted, but that's no longer the case. I just plug and unplug until the damned thing works.Once things are up and running, it's not horrible. Sometimes songs will launch quickly. Other times not. Occasionally not at all. Third-party apps generally are pretty good, though. (Maybe just Google Play Services wonk?)

    All in all, as an early adopter, it's pretty good. But I still get the feeling it can be so much better.

    Thoughts?
    07-06-2015 04:10 PM
  2. mikereidis's Avatar
    I've seen a lot of weird stuff in AA while reverse engineering the AA protocol and writing a Headunit app.

    One annoying thing is that AA will often crash when it gets a packet that's not perfectly formed. The code is OK with a "perfect headunit" but it's not robust like TCP stacks or "industrial quality" code usually is.

    This helps illustrate the differences between the "quick to code" of Google/Apple and the "slow overdesign for robustness" of the car manufacturers. Auto OEMs try to make it perfect at release; Google/Apple and most of the software industry ship code fast with a "we can fix it later" attitude. On the positive Google/Apple seem leaps ahead in building UIs people like.

    A good number of people have problems with bad USB cables and bad connections, whether using a hardware HU or my HU app. Bend the cable going into the phone just a bit and with some cables/connectors USB data connections die. Not so much of an issue for charging only; the phone doesn't freak out if charge disappears for a few seconds.

    We may see improvements over USB cables when AA over WiFi is supported. It's in the AA code and is working now; I have it working partly with my app so far. But WiFi will have it's own problems too, in noisy RF environments.


    I think Google may make more careful efforts when AA is more widespread. Right now only a "relative handful" of people are running it, mostly on aftermarket HUs. It's kinda still in a beta state.
    07-06-2015 09:49 PM
  3. Cant Miss's Avatar
    I've seen a number of minor glitches with both (2013; 2014) Moto X's. I say 'minor' as restarting the HU or unplugging/replugging the phone generally takes care of it.

    But these don't seem minor when you're driving. Most of them seem Bluetooth related. If you turn on Bluetooth on the phone, and wait for the pioneer to connect to an existing pairing before plugging in your phone, things almost always work right.

    But stopping and restarting your vehicle with the phone left plugged in frequently results in some 'other' pairing being established. I have actually seen the pairing on the phone simply disappear numerous times, even though AA continues to work.

    But sometimes this mystery pairing results in audio playing over the phone's speaker, people I call not being able to hear me, or an error that Bluetooth is not connected. Oh, and I've seen the 'try again when safe' error as well but only occasionally.

    I think whatever AA is doing regarding auto discovery over USB (turn on Bluetooth, auto pairing, etc.) is not quite fully baked. There's a shocker; Bluetooth issues with Android.

    Hopefully they get it straightened out soon as it is just too finicky right now. It should just work without us having to follow some persnickety routine to consistently establish a reliable connection to AA.

    Another observation about the connection. Be careful what cord you choose. I figured, what better cord to use than the Moto one that came with the phone. Seems very nice quality... wrong. Both my factory cords had a little looser connection in which the vibration in my truck would occasionally cause an interruption in data. The slightest of which, completely disconnects AA. Swapping the cable out for a more snug fitting Monoprice cable completely alleviated this.
    07-07-2015 09:48 AM
  4. mikereidis's Avatar
    Hopefully they get it straightened out soon as it is just too finicky right now. It should just work without us having to follow some persnickety routine to consistently establish a reliable connection to AA.
    One of the silliest things is having to enable USB debugging on the phone, and before that enabling developer settings by tapping 7 times on build number. AFAIK, that isn't written anywhere by Google.

    Also the incident where Google accidentally released a "dogfood release" that had user emails and phone numbers dancing on every square inch of the screen.

    Not ready for prime time. It seems a GOOD thing that it's still almost impossible to find a car with AA pre-installed. Dealerships won't have a clue.

    I rarely read anything about Apple CarPlay because I'm not much interested in iOS. I wonder if Apple is doing better.
    07-08-2015 11:14 PM
  5. pirum's Avatar
    My guess is that Apple is doing slightly better, they have rolled out to more countries it seems and dealers (and customers) are more aware. Apple give a good and tantalizing presentation of Apple Carplay on their website , which I understand looks more appealing to average users than android.com/auto/ . Lots of IOS users more or less regularly checks out Apple web page. How many Android users check out android.com, androidcentral, xda, or other sites needed to know of and run latest Android? Carplay is a better name too.

    Yes, a system can't be judged by presentation alone, but I personally know people leaving Android because their new car have, or will have, CarPlay while the dealer (VW in this case) had no idea of what Android Auto was - even if the car actually was equipped with it. I managed to install AA, so the iphone order was cancelled, but AA isn't activated in most countries yet (ok neither is CarPlay) and I couldn't just download it from Google Play - I had to either create a US google account and pretend my phone was there, or I had to load an .apk manually. (I live in Scandinavia where Android Auto is available in cars but not in Google Play)

    So, this VW dealer is encouraging buyers to go for Apple and Carplay, as Android Auto in Scandinavia seems 6 months away and the dealer know little of it. The car also had support for Mirrorlink it seems, but unfortunately support for ML has been weak from both cars and phones.

    I've been a long time Android user in a family of mostly IOS-users, and while Androids strength in diversity is good it is a problem when it comes to Android Auto, Mirrorlink, and not to mention Carplay. I assume most cars will have at least Android Auto and CarPlay, but it will take long for Android phones to give full support. First Lollipop seems needed, and even that isn't enough if operators and Google are slow with updating firmware, market availability, etc.

    But, in the end I'm certain Android Auto will be more versatile than CarPlay, when it comes to 3rd party apps.
    07-09-2015 03:02 AM
  6. Cant Miss's Avatar
    One of the silliest things is having to enable USB debugging... I rarely read anything about Apple CarPlay because I'm not much interested in iOS. I wonder if Apple is doing better.
    I have not had to enable USB debugging on my phones.

    As for carplay, I've heard of issues, but nothing like what I'm seeing with AA... which seems par for the course.
    07-09-2015 06:51 AM
  7. Dr Claw's Avatar
    Phone: Verizon Wireless Samsung Galaxy S5 (latest Lollipop build OE1, was using OC4 prior)
    Head Unit/Car: Pioneer 8100NEX in 2003 Volvo V70

    VZW S5 was one of the latest "mainstream" phones released in recent times to become AA-compliant, and it was one of the first ones that had a lot of people clamoring for it. After the security and application updates in late May, I have been using Android Auto with mostly no problems. It's actually become routine now for phone, "general info" and Google Maps use. Google Maps usage is awesome. Because you have the option to reroute based on real-time traffic conditions, it's really great. I like being able to send text messages and having them read to me via this app, it's very useful (and I never really text outside of my car). As I've said elsewhere in the forum, I'm not really digging how it handles music (with the voice control and the limited controls of said music relative to what Pioneer offers with its base UI), so on and so forth. But as a gateway to nav and things in your car, it's one of the best I've seen. Also, as I've said elsewhere, the degree of nonsense that you are required to undergo just to set up the application in your car is at times infuriating. As for the head unit itself, I really like it. I had a defect with my first one but the seller was nice enough to honor a warranty and took care of that for me. 2 USB ports, a host of inputs aside from that, and some of the best and most responsive iPod control I have ever seen in a car, OEM or otherwise might just make me a Pioneer lifer after years of using other brands.

    Lately I have been having similar issues as Phil, where Android Auto will not load upon plugging in, with the "Android Auto cannot start now" message. It requires me to unplug and replug. I also use USB debugging, if only because it makes AA load faster upon plugging in. It is not necessary for me though.

    Aside from being overly safe to the point of annoyance (following NHTSA's lead re: how many clicks before you hit a barrier) and losing some real utility, I feel like we've got a long way to go before this really becomes a killer app. But to start, it's quite good and a formidable alternative to CarPlay (who does the whole "music" thing better, not surprisingly).

    I would really love to see a MirrorLink alternative to this (like a universal car dashboard app), as so many Android phones that were released in the last year support it, particularly on Lollipop.
    07-09-2015 02:07 PM
  8. mikereidis's Avatar
    My guess is that Apple is doing slightly better, they have rolled out to more countries it seems and dealers (and customers) are more aware. Apple give a good and tantalizing presentation of Apple Carplay on their website , which I understand looks more appealing to average users than android.com/auto/
    Most of what I've read favors the UI of Android Auto. Google maps is another big plus and I think Waze, or it's technology, could be a killer app for the car. But I wonder if Waze is blocked for now because Google doesn't want bad press from complaining police and residential side-streeters.

    But I'm pretty sure Android users will use AA and iOS users will use CP. Very few will switch phones for the car, and most cars/HUs will eventually support both AA and CP.

    There ARE design differences between AA and CP too. I think CP is closer (but not exactly?) to a display mirroring solution, while AA enabled apps don't have direct access to the screen and must use Googles callback APIs to provide info and implement functions.
    07-09-2015 09:29 PM
  9. James Hauser's Avatar
    I have an AVH-4100NEX (installed in a 2010 Camaro) and an unmodified AT&T Note 4. Here are my thoughts:

    I have not used Android Auto alot, just a few hour long commutes to try it out. So far, I have not had any connection issues. I tried three different usb cables (one of them a generic cheapo) and all three worked reliably. I am currently using an amazon basics cable with a motorola right angle adapter. AA starts up in maybe 4-5 seconds. Maybe less. Taps on the screens generally register in a second or two. With music and maps in use, it still charged my phone. So I have no complaints about the logistics of the hardware and software. Unfortunately, that's where my compliments end.

    The interface itself, to me, is clunky. It feels just like any number of oem infotainment systems to me. I imagine that's by design, as google probably doesn't want to scare off the big car manufacturers. If AA worked drastically better than oem systems, the oems might steer clear of it.

    My biggest gripe is the persistent navigation bar on the bottom. It kills off a huge chunk of the screen. My second biggest gripe is when using navigation, the directions occupy half of what's left. Which leaves you with roughly 3/5 of the screen for the map. And due to the poor contrast and resolution, you can't see much of anything on the map. My third gripe is Google Music. It's the only music player (I know of) that AA recognizes, and I can't figure out a way to choose albums, playlists, or really anything that wasn't already queued up on the phone app. I imagine that's by design as well (to keep things simple) but even oem systems let you do those things.

    And I guess those are my only three gripes, because those are basically the only things that android auto even does. I know alot of people use Google Now, but I don't really find it useful. Call me John Connor, but I refuse to talk to a machine, so I basically just use Google Now for weather.

    As for CarPlay, I will be brief (not many iphone fans here I imagine). It does offer a little more than Android Auto, but not much. Siri is nicer than GN, but she's still a machine. I refuse to use messaging in the car, voice or otherwise. And I am not getting into Apple vs Google maps. But the music app part of Carplay is superior to that of AA. That's it.

    The internal music player interface of the NEX blows away both AA and Carplay. Which is the main reason for a head unit afterall. I would have liked a better maps experience, but using google maps on my note4's screen (which I have in a cradle mounted to my dash up much higher than the head unit display) absolutely blows away the android auto maps experience. It's like comparing a modern windows PC to an old Amiga. I realize AA is in its infancy. And I could accept that. Unfortunately, what Google has given us is still in the womb. Apple's isn't measurably better.

    Bottom line: I feel like I wasted $1000.
    07-17-2015 12:56 PM
  10. BobB67's Avatar
    Yes, if you refuse to use voice commands you wasted a lot of money.
    07-18-2015 08:08 AM

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