I love Android Auto, but I’ve given up using it in our long-term 2017 Audi A4 Allroad. In fact, I’ve given up using it in any car that doesn’t have a touchscreen interface. A rotary knob like the one in the Allroad works fine when the system is designed around it, but using it as the input device for Android Auto is frustrating and distracting since it the system was designed for touchscreens. Audi had to adapt it (and Apple CarPlay) for MMI. Plus, the situation is made even worse here since it looks like the A4 Allroad has a touchscreen (the image above is from a Q7). Various fingerprints can attest to that.
Unless I’m driving my personal car, I never listen to the radio (my ’99 Mercedes may not have Bluetooth or an auxiliary input, but it does have a Motorola car phone). Spotify, Audible, and Pocket Casts are my go-to media services and they all stream straight from my phone. Each one has a Android Auto app. Android Auto’s Google Maps and Waze integration is just as useful. All my contacts are in Google Maps, so if I have Android Auto I just use the voice command to find my destination. It’s stupid simple.
One of the best parts of Android Auto is that it looks and acts the same way in every car. It has the same apps in the same place, all streaming from the phone you use every day. When you’re forced to interact with it in a new way, it takes that familiarization away. It’s like using a computer with only a keyboard. Sure, it can work, but it’s unintuitive and, in this case, dangerously distracting.
I really like our Allroad, just not the infotainment system.