How to Fix the Broken Voice Commands on Android Auto

Broken voice commands on Android Auto 15 photos
Photo: Bogdan Popa/autoevolution
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If you don't use voice commands on Android Auto, you really should. The feature is integral to the Android Auto experience, allowing drivers to interact with their apps and focus on the road.
Drivers can use voice commands to set up navigation, play a song, make a phone call, or send a message without taking their eyes off the road.

On Android Auto, voice commands are powered by Google Assistant. Android uses a similar approach, with the Google app in charge of delivering a smooth experience with Google Assistant.

The concept is carried over to Android Auto, where the Google app is responsible for everything related to voice commands in the car. In other words, while Android Auto is the primary app that allows you to use apps installed on the phone from the infotainment screen, it also comes with other linked apps powering various features.

Why voice commands don't work as expected

Android Auto Coolwalk
Photo: Bogdan Popa/autoevolution
The main reason for voice commands not working correctly on Android Auto is a bad update.

It sounds terrible for the overall Android Auto reliability, but the updates received by users in this world are often broken, eventually leading to various problems in the car.

The broken voice commands are very common, but as I said earlier, Android Auto is not the culprit. Instead, the Google app is the one that breaks down things. Google ships updates for the Google app regularly, sometimes every day.

Voice commands might not work as expected due to Google Assistant not having the right permissions in the car. Google Assistant must be able to listen to what you say, and the microphone must be enabled to process your voice commands.

Eventually, voice commands could also malfunction due to bugs in certain apps. For example, the original Waze version with Coolwalk support suffered from a voice command bug that wasn't related to the direct implementation of Google Assistant in Android Auto. As a result, the Waze team had to ship a patch, as otherwise, Google Assistant worked correctly in the rest of Android Auto apps.

How to fix voice commands on Android Auto

Android Auto Coolwalk
Photo: Bogdan Popa/autoevolution
The first things you must check are the permissions on your Android device (the permissions are carried over to Android Auto). Voice commands require microphone access, so if you restrict the use of the mic on Android, then Google Assistant can't hear what you say.

If voice commands worked correctly on Android Auto but ended up broken down without you changing anything, you must advance to step two.

Google's updates often break down things for no reason, so you must inspect the latest app version and its installation date on your device. If the latest Google app update was installed at the same time when you spotted the bugs, you have already resolved half of the problem.

There are two fixes in this case. You can either wait for Google to come up with a patch (something that can take anywhere from one day to several months) or address the problem temporarily on your own. The latter scenario involves a manual downgrade to an earlier version of the Google app. You must download the APK installer on your Android device and install it manually. You don't have to remove the existing version from the smartphone, as simply deploying an APK installer allows you to go back to an earlier build.

Android Auto Coolwalk
Photo: Bogdan Popa/autoevolution
Once you do that, you must block the automatic updates so the faulty update doesn't reach your device. You won't be able to do this forever, as Google would eventually enforce the update to a newer release – this is necessary for critical releases that include infrastructure changes, security patches, and so on.

If this doesn't fix the voice commands on your device, it's time to look into Android Auto and the other apps running in the car. It might be an app-specific bug, so you can try to downgrade to an earlier version to see if the latest update caused it. Most APKs are available online, so download the installer, downgrade, and see if the problem persists.

If nothing works, then you might be hitting an operating system error. Bugs introduced in OS updates, regardless of the phone maker, are common, so you must wait for the parent company to come up with a patch. For example, similar Android Auto glitches have plagued the Google Pixel for many months, with Google needing a lot of time to determine the cause and release a fix.

Eventually, fixing voice commands is critical for every user, especially because this is a safety feature, and it helps drivers interact with the app without distraction. Google should handle these bug reports more seriously, as waiting for up to several months for a critical patch isn't by any means the expected experience from an application whose popularity keeps rising.
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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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