CarPlay and Android Auto are two examples of systems that are intended to make it safer and more convenient to interact with messages, calls, and media while driving. However, when these systems originally came out, you had to plug in a cable. Even though it’s a straightforward activity, quick journeys frequently don’t actually justify it. AAWireless, a device that connects wireless Android Auto to your vehicle, aims to address this issue.
Although wireless Android Auto first appeared a few years ago, it is still not commonly available in even brand-new vehicles in 2022, forcing most people to attach a cable in order to enjoy this convenience while forgoing rapid charging.
With the promise of giving Android Auto wireless to any vehicle that already supports the wired version, AAWireless makes its debut in late 2020. Emil Borconi, a developer who had previously created an app that allowed users to utilize wireless Android Auto with a spare smartphone, played a part in the project’s beginning. Clever but severely constrained.
Following a proof of concept and ultimately distribution to customers, the actual AAWireless dongle was a tiny little USB-C device that plugged into your car and was ready to connect to your phone for wireless Android Auto. I’ve had the chance to use that gadget for a while and have followed the development cycle since the product’s introduction.
I’m delighted to report that the finished product has been a lovely addition to my automobile. Within a few seconds of the car starting up, it connects to my phone, and by the time I leave my driveway, Android Auto is operational. Performance has also significantly improved since I initially used the product in 2020. The completed product has only disconnected once in the previous few months, as opposed to the proof of concept’s frequent random disconnections.
The completed hardware is a small, portable unit with simply a USB-C connector and a reset hole for controls. Although it would be easier to couple phones again if the reset control was a physical button rather than a paperclip, AAWireless theoretically supports many phones, so you aren’t required to reset it at all. The gadget is also quite lightweight, although it’s built of fairly low-quality plastic that readily scratches when placed inside a center console. The accompanying cable is short and flexible, so it fits almost everywhere, and the design is discreet and tiny enough that it won’t be an eyesore if your automobile needs that it be seen.
How does it function? The adapter, called AAWireless, connects to the car’s USB infotainment port in the same way as your phone would with wired Android Auto. For this gadget to function, your car must have wired Android Auto support.
During initial setup, AAWireless will ask you to link over Bluetooth, and you may need to enable a developer setting to make sure everything functions properly on some phones. After that, your phone will establish a Wi-Fi connection with the dongle. This enables Android Auto to function on the phone and interact wirelessly with the dongle. After initial setup, the handoff is seamless, rapid, and in my experience, also fairly reliable.
AAWireless does have a second element, though, and that is a companion app. With capabilities as sophisticated as altering the DPI, that software gives consumers more control over their experience.
The app also makes it possible for the dongle to receive OTA updates, unlocks a few fine-tuning settings, and facilitates the process of re-pairing the dongle, but in actuality, if everything functions as intended, you won’t even need this app.
The system as a whole operates rather faultlessly. As previously said, Android Auto is typically operating on my car without any input from me by the time I pull out of the driveway, usually within a 30-second window. Another issue with wireless systems is latency, but in my opinion it is unimportant. In the few months I’ve been using this dongle across Pixel 5, Galaxy S21 Ultra, Galaxy Z Fold 2 and 3, and Pixel 6 Pro, there is virtually no audible lag in touch response when using AAWireless. Direct audio transmission through Bluetooth is made to the vehicle, and data is handled by the dongle’s wi-fi connection.
But the effect this has on the battery is not insignificant. If you were to do this on a long trip, you can anticipate your battery to suffer significantly, but if you’re only driving to the store for 15 minutes, it won’t really be a problem. I still prefer wired Android Auto for longer rides, so I’m delighted my car has two connections that can be utilized for Android Auto.
The fact that this makes your phone more accessible to alternative charging ways, in my opinion, offsets the battery impact. You may now use the built-in Qi charging in your vehicle (heat may be a concern, but in my experience none of my devices have gotten particularly toasty). However, since the USB port is no longer being used for data, you can also connect your phone to a third-party charger that is considerably faster.
For many people, wireless Android Auto as a third-party accessory was once just a pipe dream until AAWireless made it a reality. Since the product’s release, I’ve been quite pleased with it, however there is a significant catch. The cost of AAWireless increased significantly, and the product is still only available through Indiegogo, in part because of the global chip scarcity and other development issues. AAWireless becomes less distinctive when other options emerge that are simpler to buy.
As of this review’s publication in mid-January 2022, AAWireless costs $85 and is available to purchase from Indiegogo is scheduled to ship in March 2022. According to the developers I spoke with, there is still a lot more waiting to do before the product is made available through legitimate retail channels in the coming months.
The MA1 dongle from Motorola will make its debut the following week with similar claims to AAWireless. While I haven’t tried it yet, I’ll keep you updated because it seems like a good product that will be much simpler to buy and might make setup less difficult because of Google’s support. AAWireless is a product I can absolutely suggest as long as you’re patient enough to wait for it, but if Motorola’s MA1 dongle isn’t accessible in your country or your car utilizes a USB-C port rather than a USB-A connection, Motorola’s dongle includes a built-in cable instead of a connector.