Android Auto is standard in newer cars, but something older cars lack. Additions are complex and can cost hundreds of dollars. But did you know that you can actually add an affordable Android Auto unit to any car in seconds? Here’s how.
Aftermarket head units have been available for decades at this point, and support for both Android Auto and CarPlay is now standard on nearly every option you buy today. In general, these head units are fairly affordable, but they can also be very expensive, and if you don’t have the experience, you may need the help of an expensive professional to install them on some vehicles. I have.
For quite some time, I’ve wanted to add Android Auto to my wife’s car. My wife’s Hyundai her Elantra was from a nasty time when touchscreens and her Android Auto weren’t particularly common, but Bluetooth and AUX connectivity were standard. But her last attempt to add an aftermarket head unit didn’t pan out: Earlier this year, when she spent some time with the Spotify Car Thing, she wondered if a similar device could run her Android Auto. I thought it would be great.
After all, those devices do exist. And they are actually very easy to use.
For the past few months my wife has been using a 7 inch external Android Auto unit in her car that mounts to the dashboard and supports Android Auto in wireless form. It plugs into the AUX connection to route audio into your car and draws power from your regular car power outlet.
This also took literally seconds to install. The included windshield mount was perfect for my wife’s car, but you can also use this as a dash mount or get creative with DIY placement and other mounting options. It’s effectively a tiny tablet running Android Auto.
Admittedly, this isn’t a pretty looking setup. The “IYING” device I chose for her was one of the only options available to her earlier this year and wasn’t exactly the best design. It’s very simple, but it works. It doesn’t look as good as the two cables dangle slightly, but it’s not as bad as the charging cable you use to keep your phone charged while running Google Maps on the dashboard mount.
how does that work? Overall, very nice.
When she starts the car, the device automatically turns on. Stock software isn’t always great. It has some very common and easy to forget but useful features. You can mirror your phone’s screen or use this device as a traditional girlfriend’s Bluetooth head unit to add wireless audio support to your featureless car. The unit also supports adding a backup camera, but we opted not to try it out as it obviously complicates the setup/installation process.
The built-in 7-inch display is also suitable for in-car use. I wouldn’t say it’s super bright, but it’s bright enough to use to read what’s displayed on a sunny day without issue. However, it’s only a 1024×600 panel, so it’s not particularly sharp. One quirk of his that I quickly noticed is that some of his UI is cut off at the top of the panel, but it doesn’t really hinder usability at all.
On the other hand, when using Android Auto wirelessly on her Pixel 5, it typically appears to boot within 40-60 seconds of turning on the car. This is a little slower than the one built into my Subaru Crosstrek paired with a wireless Android Auto adapter, but not too shabby! The only problem is manually pressing a button to bring up Android Auto on the screen and that popup may time out.
Android Auto works without any noticeable lag, and during her daily commute, she usually finds it to be very stable.
The main point of contention with this device is making phone calls. Maybe it’s just her car in particular, but incoming phone calls seem to ignore her AUX connection and try to run through her Bluetooth instead. As a result, she cannot hear her call and must switch her output to her phone’s speaker or earphones or resume the call from her side. We haven’t been able to narrow down exactly why this happened, but our reviews of this device seem to confirm that we’re not alone in this experience. was not found in The only thing that worked so far was using the built-in FM transmitter, which significantly reduces audio quality compared to AUX.
Is it a breach of contract? Not really, due to her limited use. But it may be for you.
But considering the roughly $250 I spent on this device, it was a worthwhile investment. She enjoys being able to easily view maps without having to expose her phone to heat the whole time she’s driving. This was definitely easier to install than the more permanent option.
Plus, a few months after purchasing this device, more options popped up and the price dropped.
I haven’t tried the others yet, but there are quite a few available on Amazon. 9to5Mac I had a great experience with Intellidash Pro on the CarPlay side. There is also an Android Auto model. “Carpuride” has a large device that looks pretty sleek, with options around $100 and under. Personally, this is the form factor that intrigues me. Would you like to purchase?
Android Auto details:
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