Transform Your Old Smartphone into an Android Auto Dashboard

Modern cars frequently include compatibility with Android Auto or Apple CarPlay, making it simple to integrate smartphone infotainment systems. However, if your vehicle doesn’t support these technologies, you can repurpose an old smartphone to bring Google’s automotive operating system to your car’s dashboard.

Here’s a straightforward guide on how to turn an unused phone into a functional Android Auto screen without needing expensive adapters or custom screens.

smartphone android auto

Setting Up Your Old Smartphone for Android Auto

1. Install a Suitable Phone Mount: First, you need to securely position the old smartphone within your vehicle. Choose a mount that doesn’t obstruct your view of the road or interfere with driving controls. Options include sturdy stickers, magnet mounts, or suction cups that can attach to the dashboard or air vents, ensuring the phone is within easy sight and reach.

2. Download the Necessary App: Install the “Headunit Reloaded” app on the old smartphone. This app is available on the Google Play Store for €4.89. It’s a one-time purchase that turns your device into an Android Auto screen. To offset the cost, consider using the Google Opinion Rewards app, which lets you earn Google Play credits by completing surveys.

3. Prepare Your Current Smartphone: On the smartphone you use regularly, activate Android Auto by following these steps:

  • Open the Android Auto application (you might need to find it via the ‘Settings’ search bar as it may not appear on your home screen).
  • In the Android Auto settings, tap the version number repeatedly until a message pops up allowing you to activate developer settings.
  • Tap the three vertical dots in the upper right corner and select ‘Start Head Unit Server’.
  • Enable a mobile hotspot to share your data connection.

4. Connect and Configure Android Auto: Switch back to the old smartphone with the Headunit Reloaded app:

  • Open the app and follow the on-screen instructions, granting all necessary permissions.
  • Lock the phone’s orientation to horizontal to avoid display issues with Android Auto.
  • Connect to the Wi-Fi hotspot created by your current smartphone.

Enjoy Enhanced Features

With everything set up, your old smartphone is now a dedicated Android Auto unit. You can access maps, music, and hands-free communication features, enhancing your driving experience without the need for modern built-in car tech.

Why Use an Old Smartphone for Android Auto?

  • Cost-Effective: Utilizes existing devices without the need to invest in new hardware.
  • Eco-Friendly: Repurposes electronics that might otherwise contribute to e-waste.
  • Customizable Setup: Tailors the Android Auto experience to your preferences and vehicle’s specifics.

Using an old smartphone as a dedicated Android Auto device is an ingenious way to upgrade your vehicle’s technology affordably and sustainably. Follow these steps to ensure a smooth setup, and you’ll soon enjoy all the benefits of modern car infotainment systems, regardless of your vehicle’s age or model.