You Don’t Need a Google Account to Use Android Automotive, You’ll Want One Anyway

Android Automotive on the Polestar 2 10 photos
Photo: Polestar
Android Automotive in Polestar 2Android Automotive in Polestar 2Android Automotive on the 2022 Hummer EVAndroid Automotive on the 2022 Hummer EVAndroid Automotive on the 2022 Hummer EVAndroid Automotive on the 2022 Hummer EVAndroid Automotive on the 2022 Hummer EVAndroid Automotive on the 2022 Hummer EVAndroid Automotive on the 2022 Hummer EV
Android Auto is a system whose adoption is on the rise these days, but this doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the only way Google wants to conquer the automotive system.
While the search giant remains fully committed to improving Android Auto in the long term, the company is also investing in Android Automotive, a much more advanced solution that provides a new-gen experience behind the wheel.

The nomenclature can be confusing, there’s no doubt about it, but the most important thing is there’s just one big difference between the two: Android Auto is powered by your mobile device, while Android Automotive is installed at the head unit level, becoming the operating system in charge of powering your digital experience while driving.

Android Automotive sports one essential benefit for users and Google alike: it allows for deeper integration of Google services.

It goes without saying the whole concept isn’t everybody’s cup of tea. Privacy-obsessed drivers may not be the biggest fans of having a Google system run non-stop in their cars, and in this case, Android Automotive becomes a major shortcoming when looking to buy a new vehicle.

Android Automotive in Polestar 2
Photo: Polestar
There’s one thing that many seem to ignore when discussing the capabilities of Android Automotive: the system doesn’t necessarily require a Google account, so you can very well use it without being signed in.

In other words, if you’re afraid Google keeps an eye on what you do behind the wheel and where you go, and then associate all the data with everything it has on you collected from the Google account on your PC, that’s not going to happen. Even if you don’t log in, you’re still able to use Google Maps and Google Assistant on Android Automotive.

On the other hand, there’s one major drawback of not having a Google account on Android Automotive.

Just like most Google apps on PCs or mobile devices, the lack of a Google account means you’re missing on certain capabilities, so you won’t enjoy everything Android Automotive has to offer.

Android Automotive in Polestar 2
Photo: Polestar
Let’s take Google Maps, for example. The navigation app comes with upgraded capabilities on Android Automotive, so for example, it can keep an eye on your current battery level and suggest a nearby charging station when you’re running out of juice.

When logged in with a Google account, on the other hand, Google Maps is capable of doing even more. For instance, it can remember your home and work locations, and if any has a charging station and there’s enough battery to reach them, the app can just let you head towards the destination without a detour.

The same goes for Google Assistant. The digital assistant can remember all sorts of things about you, obviously as long as you’re logged in with a Google account, and then provide you with answers that make more sense when driving.

So at the end of the day, the whole thing is as simple as it could be: you don’t need a Google account when using Android Automotive, but on the other hand, you’ll probably want one anyway.

Android Automotive on the 2022 Hummer EV
Photo: Screenshot from GMC Hummer EV channel
If you don’t want to mix your driving data with the rest of the information that Google collected on your PC and mobile device, just create a separate Google account that you can use when driving. Of course, you’re going to lose the syncing capabilities, but on the other hand, it’s one way to keep driving data in the car.

The adoption of Android Automotive is slowly but surely expanding, with Google currently working with more carmakers on making it happen. You can find the full list of vehicles supporting Android Automotive on this page – we’re always updating the list with new models when they are announced, so check it out regularly to stay up-to-date with information on this front.
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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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