How an Android Update Is Now Forcing Android Auto Wireless Users To Return to Cables

Android Auto users forced to return to cables 15 photos
Photo: Bogdan Popa/autoevolution
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Android Auto wired and wireless feel like completely distinct versions of the same app, despite the fact that there are only different connection methods between the phone and the vehicle.
Unfortunately, many Android Auto users learned the hard way that using Android Auto with a cable isn't at all the stable experience they expected. Cables have long been Android Auto's Achilles' heel, causing various problems, from broken connectivity to random disconnects and app crashes.

Choosing the right cable for Android Auto has become so challenging that even Google released dedicated guidance to help users deal with connection problems. The company shared a tutorial on Android Auto cables, as finding the right cable for a stable and reliable experience is harder than it seems at first glance.

Android Auto wireless eliminates the cable factor from a stability perspective, offering a more consistent and straightforward experience overall. I've used both, and the wireless connection has eventually become my daily driver. However, I didn't eliminate cables, as I still plug in my smartphone when I drive, especially on a long journey, to charge my smartphone.

At the end of the day, Android Auto wireless is better than Android Auto wired. For many users who installed the latest Android updates, the situation is exactly the opposite.

The bug

Android Auto Coolwalk
Photo: Bogdan Popa/autoevolution
As you may know, if you've been part of the Android Auto user base since at least late 2023, Android 14 turned the experience into the car into a major challenge for a significant number of users. It introduced several bugs, including broken connectivity and random app crashes that Google is still working on fixing.

A growing number of users claim an Android system update – some say it's Android 14, while others point to a later OS update – broke down Android Auto wireless, making it impossible to use the app without a cable.

Users started reporting the glitch in December 2023, and since then, hundreds of Android Auto wireless adopters have confirmed the same behavior in their cars. It originally seemed like the issue only affected aftermarket head units (not vehicles fitted with Android Auto support from the factory), but the glitch has since been confirmed by both sides.

The bug occurs similarly in almost every case. The head unit no longer detects the mobile device, so Android Auto wireless fails to launch. The issue has been confirmed by owners of various Android phones, including models from Google and Samsung.

The workaround

Android Auto Coolwalk
Photo: Bogdan Popa/autoevolution
The only way to run Android Auto in cars where this behavior was reported is with a cable.

Switching to Android Auto wired isn't everybody's cup of tea, but it's the only way to continue using the app without a working wireless connection. Most users have confirmed that switching to a cable brought things back to normal, albeit not everybody likes the fix, considering they paid extra for the wireless support.

This is why they don't like Google's lack of response. Forum moderators who claim to be part of the Android Auto team have already joined the conversation and asked for additional bug data, but here we are nearly six months later, and people are still struggling with the same problem.

Google lists this glitch as a "work in progress," albeit it's becoming more obvious that the company might never release a patch. Android 15 will launch this summer, so we're only months away from when a new (and hopefully improved) operating system version launches.

What's next?

Android Auto Coolwalk
Photo: Bogdan Popa/autoevolution
Unfortunately, there's not much these users can do unless a pro user could attempt a rollback to the previous Android version where everything worked correctly.

The most frustrating part of the story is Google remaining tight-lipped on everything, as a bug that has already been confirmed by hundreds of users remains unfixed for half a year. Ironically, a Google Community Specialist asked for more bug specifics on December 12, promising the information "will help us with our investigation." Tens of users have already shared the requested details.

Using Android Auto with a cable isn't necessarily the end of the world, considering most people (including myself) keep a cable around for an extra charge while driving. However, some people paid extra money to get the wireless connection, so not being able to use something they specifically invested in is certainly frustrating.

Before trying all the generic updates, you must know they barely make a difference. Clearing the cache and the data, removing Android Auto, reinstalling the latest version from the Play Store, downloading the most recent beta build, and resetting the head unit won't improve the experience. It's all related to the system update installed on certain Android devices, so unless you're ready to flash your phone to an earlier OS version, you should just stick with cables.

Android 15 has already reached the second beta, and I'm eager to find out if someone who struggled with this bug got it fixed after installing this latest testing build. Let me know in the comment box so I can share it with others.
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About the author: Bogdan Popa
Bogdan Popa profile photo

Bogdan keeps an eye on how technology is taking over the car world. His long-term goals are buying an 18-wheeler because he needs more space for his kid’s toys, and convincing Google and Apple that Android Auto and CarPlay deserve at least as much attention as their phones.
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