Thanks for this info. I suspected as much that in vehicle Wi-Fi was required. Good to know since unless an owner has it activated and paid for that, then the desired results would not be obtained. So another monthly fee just for in vehicle Wi-Fi.How Does the Connection Work?
The connection needs in-vehicle Wi-Fi, as Bluetooth alone isn’t robust enough. The latter enables phone calls or streaming music, but it ultimately supports relatively little data. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto need a hardier connection — the impetus behind a physical cable in the first place, which both systems required at inception. A Wi-Fi connection to the multimedia system through an in-vehicle router accommodates more data. It’s the “only wireless protocol that has enough bandwidth to support phone mirroring,” explained David Amodeo, J.D. Power’s director of global automotive.
The downside of such a data-intensive connection? It kills your battery. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto can exact such a heavy drain that we’ve observed phones tethered to older-generation USB ports lose their battery charge while using the systems, so robust charging sources are a must. Wireless charging pads have answered the call — a feature that’s proliferated across the industry, especially in cars with wireless Apple CarPlay.
If My Car Already Has Wi-Fi, Could I Get Wireless Apple CarPlay or Android Auto?
That’s unlikely because it isn’t that simple. Almost all cars with in-vehicle Wi-Fi (think GM’s built-in 4G LTE hot spot) have a single-band router, explained Colin Bird-Martinez, a senior tech analyst at IHS Markit. And just like good Wi-Fi at home needs a dual-band router — one for phones and laptops, the other to stream Netflix — any car with wireless Apple CarPlay or Android Auto needs unique dual-band hardware, Bird-Martinez said.
Another requirement? An in-vehicle GPS receiver, which most cars package with in-dash navigation. Even if you seldom use the car’s system, any smartphone connected to wireless CarPlay will hitch a ride on its GPS signal. Like the dual-band router, it’s all for the sake of minimizing interference.
“Your phone has a modem, and it also has a Wi-Fi receiver, and it also has GPS — and if you’re connected to Wi-Fi and you’re trying to use GPS at the same time, there can be interference,” Bird-Martinez said. “If you’re using wireless [CarPlay], you must have a navigation system in your car.”
For similar reasons, don’t expect automakers to enable conventional Apple CarPlay or Android Auto to work wirelessly down the road. It’s doubtful that many of them, if any at all, have the right hardware.