MobileSyrup’s top CarPlay and Android adapters [2022 Edition]
There is no doubt that using Apple CarPlay and Android Auto in the car provides a safer and more connected driving experience. Maybe your vehicle already supports it, or maybe not. However, you have access to any platform, there are many good adapters that bring you extra comfort every time you get behind the wheel.
The latest vehicles may offer both of these platforms with wireless connectivity, but most current and previous models do not. You can even drive a car that they never supported to begin with. This is where these devices come in. While a couple may require more professional installation, the majority won’t need much knowledge to get things up and running.
For iPhone users looking to cut the cord, the CPLAY2air adapter is dedicated to CarPlay, working with both factory and aftermarket head units. It’s currently compatible with the iPhone 6 or later, and a fairly simple setup where you just plug it into the vehicle’s USB-A port to kick off the process.
There are some caveats that your phone only needs to connect to the Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connections that come from the adapter. This means that you will have to disconnect from your vehicle’s head unit if you are connected to it via Bluetooth. Doing so should ensure that CarPlay works smoothly on your dash screen.
It is possible to use it with multiple iPhones in the same car, especially if you share the car with someone. There is no app, but there is a way to connect to the device’s IP address through a browser on your phone to update the firmware.
Order the CPLAY2air directly from the company for $134.95.
For Android users, the Motorola MA1 dongle is perhaps one of the most high-profile because of who makes it. The general idea is similar to others in this list, where you plug the device into the USB-A port to get things going. There’s no app here to walk you through the process, but the instructions are pretty simple and easy to follow. You just need to connect to the Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connections to make it work.
The one visual indicator is the LED light on the dongle itself, which tells you when it’s connecting or connected successfully. The double-sided adhesive that comes in the box isn’t very good, so you might want to consider good double-sided tape if you choose to mount it to the dash somehow.
Order the Motorola MA1 from Amazon for $99.99.
Another one for Android users, the AAWireless started with a crowdfunding campaign, and is now readily available to everyone. Again, you have a dongle that you plug into the vehicle’s USB port, only this time you have the AAWireless app to help run things through. Once set up, Android Auto will run wirelessly every time you start the car, albeit with different start times. Sometimes it can be very fast, other times it can take more than a minute to get started. It is not entirely clear why.
The advantage of the app is that it also offers firmware updates and a range of more advanced features. For example, certain GM and Volkswagen models may have problems working with the device, so the app provides workarounds for those situations. It’s not a super seamless transition if you’re trying to use the device with multiple phones, but works great if you’re on your own.
Order the AAWireless directly from Amazon for $89.99.
The Carlinkit 4.0 works with both CarPlay and Android Auto, and is best if you use either with a factory head unit. It doesn’t work properly with aftermarket head units, so it’s best to avoid it if you have one installed. You must be using iPhone 6 or later (iOS 10 or later) or an Android phone with Android 10 or later for the wireless connection to work.
With the initial compatibility in place, it should be an easy setup and consistent connection throughout. It shares many functional similarities with the CPLAY2air, right down to the browser-based connection for firmware updates.
Order Carlinkit 4.0 from Amazon or buy it directly from the company.
Ottocast likes to call the U2-X a “2-in-1 adapter” and the main reason is because it works the same way for both CarPlay and Android Auto to establish a wireless connection. The one catch is that it won’t work with BMW and Mitsubishi vehicles, so it’s best to look elsewhere on this list for something else compatible with those makes and models.
Despite the terribly translated website, the device does what it’s supposed to do, and can do it regardless of whether you plug it into a factory or aftermarket head unit. You can also update the firmware through a web browser.
Order the Otttocast U2-X from Amazon for $179. or buy it directly from the company for $180.52.
Here’s another one that started as a crowdfunding campaign and is still available primarily through Kickstarter and Indiegogo or the Carsifi site. It’s just for Android Auto, designed as a plug-and-play device that’s easy to set up and drive. Like others on the list, you plug in the dongle, go through the short setup process, and then have a wireless connection to the platform afterward.
The device comes with extensive compatibility with both phones and vehicles. Aftermarket head units are not a problem either. Carsifi has also developed a companion app to keep things accessible, including for firmware updates or resetting the device in case you want to start with it.
Order a Carsifi adapter from Amazon for $119 or buy it directly from the company for $89 USD (about $121.50 CAD).
Car and driver Intellidash+
It’s much more than just a dongle, as it has a 7-inch IPS screen of its own and is a possible solution if you’re driving a car that doesn’t have CarPlay or Android Auto support. The Intellidash+ is essentially an all-in-one product that can run in any vehicle. It comes with all the necessary cables, including to ensure sound runs through the car stereo system and voice assistants, such as Siri and Google Assistant, work properly.
Note that there are several devices under the Intellidash name. The Plus version is the one that allows wireless connections, while the non-Plus one does not. There are several ports to really tinker with if you want to expand on what it can do, but the gist is that you’re setting up an external display somewhere on your dash rather than replacing your car’s existing head unit display.
Order the Car and Driver Intellidash+ from Amazon for $119.
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