Using Google Maps and Waze on Android Auto Is Suddenly a Nightmare

Waze on Android Auto 8 photos
Photo: Bogdan Popa/autoevolution
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Google Maps and Waze are currently the world's top mobile navigation apps, but using them on Android Auto has become a major challenge.
A bug that's been around for at least a couple of years makes these two apps dangerous at night, as they can't switch to the dark mode at night.

It happens on Android Auto, Google's phone projection system, where Google Maps and Waze, both Google assets, should feel at home.

I first wrote about this bug about a month ago when it resurfaced after the initial 2022 reports, but several readers have reached out to me to complain that the problem remains unfixed, making it hard to use the apps at night. The issue also seems to become more widespread, with some people giving up on using navigation at night because looking at a screen using the daytime mode would get them temporarily blind behind the wheel.

The issue mainly affects users with aftermarket media receivers where the automatic switch from day to night mode is ignored. However, these users have tried everything from updating to beta software to manually switching to the dark mode after they turn on their headlights.

Manually enabling the dark mode in Google Maps and Waze works occasionally but not every time, with some users reporting even more dangerous behavior. They claim Android Auto instructs Google Maps and Waze to toggle between the day and night modes every few seconds, turning the screen into a flashing interface that makes driving at night even more difficult.

A Community Specialist claiming to be part of the Android Auto team says the issue has already been forwarded to developers, but a fix has never been released. Considering the glitch was first reported in 2022, users have more or less lost hope that a patch would eventually land, so everybody seems to be trying to find a workaround on their own.

Unfortunately, this proved to be a waste of time until now, as the issue has no fix, given that not even the forced switch from the Android Auto developer settings works.

Meanwhile, users planning to switch to other navigation apps should give up on this idea, as the bug resides in Android Auto, meaning that any Google Maps and Waze alternative would struggle with the same problem. Everything works correctly when driving during the day, so the bug exclusively affects the night interface.

The only solution for people struggling with the bug is to give up on Google Maps and Waze temporarily at night or to switch to their mobile devices if they need turn-by-turn guidance. This means they must shut down Android Auto in their cars, as everything works correctly when Google Maps and Waze run on an Android smartphone – another sign that Android Auto is the culprit.
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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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