With the latest full software release of the Sensus platform for the 90 (and soon the new 60) series vehicles from Volvo Android Auto has been added as a feature. This application is meant to provide similar functionality for Android phone users to that of the current Apple CarPlay services.
While this is obviously great news a problem exists with this new software release: Android Auto may be available on the vehicle – but isn’t available for download in South Africa from the Google Play Store for loading onto Android phones.
The “correct” solution to this problem is for Google to release the Android Auto application for the South African market – but this would need to be pushed by Volvo internationally.
Workaround – for now
While we wait for the correct solution a workaround had to be found. While the method below works flawlessly your attention must be drawn to the following:
In order for Android Auto to be installed on your phone you need to download it from a 3rd party location – instead of the trusted Google Play Store. The location specified below is generally considered trusted and every effort is undertaken by the 3rd party to ensure that the software is safe for use. However anyone following these instructions MUST accept sole responsibility for their action in installing this software.
With the ominous disclaimer out of the way – Instructions for getting Android Auto installed on your phone:
- On the android device – open the web browser
- Navigate to: http://www.apkmirror.com/apk/google-inc/android-auto/ or alternatively scan the QR code:
- Scroll down the “All Versions” – and select the newest – currently 2.2.7108 – and click the link
- On the page that opens scroll down to “Download” – for most users select the “arm” variant and click on the link
- A new page will open showing the specific file you require – scroll down to “Download APK” and click the button
- This will download the “APK” – the installation file for Android Auto
- Once the download is completed you need to open the file and install Android Auto
- Typically this can be done from the notifications bar at the top of the phone by simply clicking on the file once downloaded
- Alternatively, use the file manager to browse to the “Downloads” location on the phone and open the APK file
Note: Some phones – specifically Samsung – may block the running of the application indicating it comes from an ‘Unknown source’ – in this case you need to go to settings in the phone and (typically) under Security allow “Unknown Sources”.
At this point the installation of Android Auto is complete
Using Android Auto
Android Auto can be used via either Bluetooth or USB cable. I would recommend you setup the phone to use Android Auto via USB as that allows the phone to charge while also ensuring the best possible audio quality etc.
- Simply plug the phone into the USB port in the central console
- Android Auto should start automatically on the phone
- On the Volvo the Android Auto app will NOT fully start automatically
- Either click the Android Auto Icon on the main screen where it indicates “ Phone connected via Android Auto” OR
- From the home screen, swipe left and click the Android Auto icon
- Once Android Auto is Open you can follow online guides on making best use of the software
Couple of Points to Note
- While in Android Auto mode you use almost all ‘direct’ phone functions – you need to work via the constraints of Android Auto for anything you wish to do
- Not all applications work through Android Auto – software developers must specifically enable their devices to work on Android Auto. Sadly Waze falls into this category – an application that is sorely missed on the Sensus UI
- Not all applications work the way you’d expect – WhatsApp would be a key example of this:
- When messages are received it pops up on the Android Auto interface correctly
- Clicking on the message then reads the message back to you
- At the end of this Android Auto asks if you want to reply – if you don’t cancel this, and try to reply – it fails. Android Auto indicates that the app needs to be upgraded – this may be fixed in the near future – but that’s up to the WhatsApp developers
- If you make use of Google Maps to navigate the built-in navigation on the Sensus platform is disabled. Before you can use the Volvo navigation directly you MUST cancel the Android Auto navigation
- Installing Android Auto in this way means you will have to manually check the APKMirror site for new updates to the application. Once Google releases the app locally I recommend you uninstall the application and re-install it from the Google Play Store to benefit from automatic updates
- Vehicles with only 1 USB port (potentially 2016 and older XC90s) might not get the Android Auto update on their vehicles at this stage
I hope this helps a couple of Volvo owners out there!