How Android Auto Will Be Able to Detect a Bad USB Cable

Android Auto is getting a helpful new feature 7 photos
Photo: cartech_gb on Instagram
Android Auto USB Startup Diagnostics toolAndroid Auto USB Startup Diagnostics toolAndroid Auto USB Startup Diagnostics toolAndroid Auto USB Startup Diagnostics toolAndroid Auto USB Startup Diagnostics toolAndroid Auto USB Startup Diagnostics tool
If you’ve been using Android Auto for more than a month or so, you probably know already that running the app on a regular basis typically comes with a pretty high likelihood of bugs.
This is because things that work just fine right now could be completely broken down a minute later, and more often than not, this happens without users changing anything on their side.

One of the most common problems in the world of Android Auto is a broken connection between the smartphone and the head unit in the car. This can have multiple symptoms, from the media receiver not detecting the phone at all to random disconnects happening in the middle of the drive.

While users most often blame Android Auto for the whole thing, the culprit is actually the cable they’re using to power the experience behind the wheel.

Google already has support documents to help users choose the right cable to run Android Auto, but the company is now getting ready to advance to the next step. Android Auto is getting a new diagnostics tool to help determine if a cable is good for Android Auto or not, therefore reducing the likelihood of problems caused by a bad cord.

Android Auto USB Startup Diagnostics tool
Photo: Mishaal Rahman on Twitter

How the new feature is supposed to work

Bundled with the latest Android Auto 7.5 beta build, the new USB Startup Diagnostics tool first and foremost requires users to disconnect the mobile device from the head unit.

In other words, you get in the car, plug in the mobile device, wait for Android Auto to attempt to launch, and when the USB diagnostics feature loads, you must disconnect the smartphone.

The app then automatically checks the cable quality, with the process typically taking only a few seconds. To tell if the cable is bad or not, the new tool tries to send data through USB, essentially being able to determine a series of values, including the transfer speed between the phone and the head unit.

Furthermore, if Android Auto thinks the transfer has a variable speed or occasionally interrupts, it can issue warnings regarding possible damaged cables. If no transfer is allowed, then it could be a sign of a completely broken cord or an incorrect USB port used for the connection.

At this point, the feature is still in the beta testing phase, so Google could still introduce additional refinements. And without a doubt, the company must make sure everything is working exactly as expected, especially because Android Auto supports a wide variety of Android phones with various connection ports.

For instance, while most new phones come with USB-C, Android Auto can also run on older mobile devices that launched with micro-USB.

Android Auto USB Startup Diagnostics tool
Photo: Mishaal Rahman on Twitter
According to the official specifications, Android Auto uses USB 2.0 and requires only 480Mbps, which means the majority of cables out there should be good enough to run the app. 5Gbps phones and cables should, at least on paper, have absolutely no problem meeting the Android Auto requirements, yet the compatibility with the head unit and the transfer speeds it’s capable of seem to be the ones causing all the problems.

Google is yet to publicly announce the new feature, but there’s a chance it’ll be included in one of the next stable updates launching in the upcoming weeks and months.

The next stable release of Android Auto is 7.5, but right now, we still don’t know if the USB Startup Diagnostics tool is ready for prime time.

In the meantime, if you need help in choosing the right cable to run Android Auto, we’ve put together a very detailed guide on the best cords for the app. Google also provides additional recommendations on this page.
If you liked the article, please follow us:  Google News icon Google News Youtube Instagram
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.
Full profile


Would you like AUTOEVOLUTION to send you notifications?

You will only receive our top stories