Android Auto vs Android Head Unit?

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hello00

Senior Member
Dec 29, 2009
4,298
3,133
South Miami, FL
Google Pixel 6 Pro
The Pioneer Nex series runs Android 4.2.2. and quite well I might add. They update Android Auto about every 60 days with fixes and whatnot.

My question is ... why does running Marshmallow (Lollipop isn't the top dog anymore) is even a question. The underlying OS is skinned and as long as it does what we want ... it's not running games or any apps that require the OS to be the newest and shiniest version. It just requires the latest Android Auto and as long as Google puts out the updates for the headunit makers and the app on our phones ... again why should we care?

thats what im saying..i could careless if it doesnt run lollipop or if it doesnt update to lollipop..as long as it is doing what it is supposed to do then im good
 

ReppinTheSouth

Senior Member
Nov 15, 2010
150
28
Also, I found out tonight on the way home that GPM has a playlist limit of 999 songs. I had a playlist with 2066 songs in it and GPM itself would only address 999. I split that playlist up by 33.3% and I'm just noting that until another player gets AA support .. my playlists are hobbled. What a POS. I have yet to try my iPod Classic with this deck ... not sure I want to do more work arounds and other crap. I'm gonna stick with the 6P and GPM for now so I can make sure both Custom1 and Custom2 are solid. I've got things pretty solidly split between 2 tweeters in the dash and four decent Fosgate speakers in my doors along with a sub ... I'm in a king cab midsize truck so I'm not going for competition level just a good balance and crisp, clear sound. My main genres are 80's rap, Metal and random crap.

AA is so friggin new that I sometimes think us early adopters are beta testing it. But then again on another thread an XDA'er said " I went Apple and have had no issues. " which I know to be a friggin lie as my wife's '16 Accord has both and they run on Android 4.2.2 with a different skin and she has an iPhone 6. She still has issues with Carplay.

So I completed the exercise of putting my music on my SD card. It was a bit of a pain only because my music was imported on iTunes and iTunes only plays nice with apple products. Some of the tag information wouldn't transfer over. It's a 32 gig card that is about half full. It took about 2 minutes or so to read the entire card the 1st time it was inserted. Now it reads 90% of the card in about 30 seconds and the last 10% takes another 30 seconds or so. The music will start playing within about 10 seconds of the unit fully booting. My videos won't play but they may be in the wrong format.

Sent from my SPH-L720 using XDA Free mobile app
 

mikereidis

Inactive Recognized Developer
Jan 28, 2011
7,823
4,143
Ottawa/Gatineau, Canada
The Pioneer Nex series runs Android 4.2.2. and quite well I might add. They update Android Auto about every 60 days with fixes and whatnot.

My question is ... why does running Marshmallow (Lollipop isn't the top dog anymore) is even a question. The underlying OS is skinned and as long as it does what we want ... it's not running games or any apps that require the OS to be the newest and shiniest version. It just requires the latest Android Auto and as long as Google puts out the updates for the headunit makers and the app on our phones ... again why should we care?

Most of us don't care what Pioneer and similiar headunits run. It could be QNX and we wouldn't care* because we aren't expecting to run regular Android apps on it.

(*But yes it's nice that it's Android because that helped me poke around the filesystem and understand some binaries. and some dev(s) are working in modding it a bit, at least to run on older HUs. But it's pretty much impossible to run normal Android apps on it, even after hacking them in)


The Chinese HUs, OTOH, present Android as a public GUI that we can run regular apps like Torque on, to say nothing of Nav/Maps, Music apps, and pretty much every other app category.

I personally want to see Android 5 on a Chinese HU, because that's the minimum to run Android Auto (with my HU app).

But there are plenty of other reasons people want to see Android 5+ because each new version has new APIs and capabilities. One of many examples would be better SELinux/security support. Also the upgraded permissions model in Android 6+. I could go on, but just check one of the lists of improvements in 5.0, 5,1, 6.0.

It's the exact same reasons we want latest Androids on our phones and tablets. Chinese HUs run regular apps, and aren't limited to a few special apps like for FM.
 
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juandhi

Senior Member
Apr 7, 2007
79
37
Los Angeles
Most of us don't care what Pioneer and similiar headunits run. It could be QNX and we wouldn't care* because we aren't expecting to run regular Android apps on it.

(*But yes it's nice that it's Android because that helped me poke around the filesystem and understand some binaries. and some dev(s) are working in modding it a bit, at least to run on older HUs. But it's pretty much impossible to run normal Android apps on it, even after hacking them in)


The Chinese HUs, OTOH, present Android as a public GUI that we can run regular apps like Torque on, to say nothing of Nav/Maps, Music apps, and pretty much every other app category.

I personally want to see Android 5 on a Chinese HU, because that's the minimum to run Android Auto (with my HU app).

But there are plenty of other reasons people want to see Android 5+ because each new version has new APIs and capabilities. One of many examples would be better SELinux/security support. Also the upgraded permissions model in Android 6+. I could go on, but just check one of the lists of improvements in 5.0, 5,1, 6.0.

It's the exact same reasons we want latest Androids on our phones and tablets. Chinese HUs run regular apps, and aren't limited to a few special apps like for FM.

So help a noob understand. Is there development in the works for having a fully functioning Android OS on the 4100? That would be the best.
 

naruto.ninjakid

Senior Member
Jun 4, 2012
905
99
Looks like some head units are starting to get lolipop from joying at least.

Please come back in 30 days or so and let us know if you are still as happy.

I hate to be a "downer", but reading the forums I can see that many people come across many little problems in day to day usage, and they post on XDA asking if anyone has solutions.

Of course, as always, people who are happy are less likely to post. And if you are happy, that's great and I'm happy that you're happy. I'm not posting just to criticize and be a "hater". :)


Are you OK with this device having Kitkat, and likely no upgrade ever to Lollipop ?

it has been over 3 months and if anything were to happen i would either try to fix it or exchange it for a new one..yeah im fine with kitkat..now if a new android unit comes out i would get it

I'm REALLY wondering when we'll see the first Chinese HU supporting Lollipop. I will strongly consider buying one and would like to support my Android Auto Headunit app on it, if possible (none of the current devices has good enough H.264 decoding it seems.)

Android 5.0 has been available on Nexus for over 14 months now (November 2014), and we had a developer preview in June, 2014.

Most of us don't care what Pioneer and similiar headunits run. It could be QNX and we wouldn't care* because we aren't expecting to run regular Android apps on it.

(*But yes it's nice that it's Android because that helped me poke around the filesystem and understand some binaries. and some dev(s) are working in modding it a bit, at least to run on older HUs. But it's pretty much impossible to run normal Android apps on it, even after hacking them in)


The Chinese HUs, OTOH, present Android as a public GUI that we can run regular apps like Torque on, to say nothing of Nav/Maps, Music apps, and pretty much every other app category.

I personally want to see Android 5 on a Chinese HU, because that's the minimum to run Android Auto (with my HU app).

But there are plenty of other reasons people want to see Android 5+ because each new version has new APIs and capabilities. One of many examples would be better SELinux/security support. Also the upgraded permissions model in Android 6+. I could go on, but just check one of the lists of improvements in 5.0, 5,1, 6.0.

It's the exact same reasons we want latest Androids on our phones and tablets. Chinese HUs run regular apps, and aren't limited to a few special apps like for FM.


I’ve been following the threads for a little while as I’m looking to upgrade the audio system in my car when I get it. It seems Joying has just started releasing some HU with Lollipop. I follow them on YouTube so saw it a few days ago. Thought you guys might be interested. In my opinion I wanted to give joying a try first. When I contacted my installer he mentioned that he never heard of the brand and he would definitely recommend that I go with the pioneers. But I feel the pioneers are a little more restrictive and if I don't go with the joying first I will always wonder if I would've had a better experience on that so I think I'm going to try them out first. Hopefully I'll have the issues and if I do I have to cough up the extra bucks and switch to the Pioneer later on.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zDH5_AQlgmU

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1hiDFFfdWVg
 

mikereidis

Inactive Recognized Developer
Jan 28, 2011
7,823
4,143
Ottawa/Gatineau, Canada
I’ve been following the threads for a little while as I’m looking to upgrade the audio system in my car when I get it. It seems Joying has just started releasing some HU with Lollipop. I follow them on YouTube so saw it a few days ago. Thought you guys might be interested. In my opinion I wanted to give joying a try first. When I contacted my installer he mentioned that he never heard of the brand and he would definitely recommend that I go with the pioneers. But I feel the pioneers are a little more restrictive and if I don't go with the joying first I will always wonder if I would've had a better experience on that so I think I'm going to try them out first. Hopefully I'll have the issues and if I do I have to cough up the extra bucks and switch to the Pioneer later on.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zDH5_AQlgmU

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1hiDFFfdWVg

Interesting...

I still see only 4.4.4 listed on their site. But I guess there is an update that can be done ?

If it can decode H.264 video I might get one, If anyone gets Lollipop running on new or old can you test that please ? Email me [email protected] if you want a way to test.
 

naruto.ninjakid

Senior Member
Jun 4, 2012
905
99
Interesting...

I still see only 4.4.4 listed on their site. But I guess there is an update that can be done ?

If it can decode H.264 video I might get one, If anyone gets Lollipop running on new or old can you test that please ? Email me [email protected] if you want a way to test.
Yeah I noticed that as well when I emailed him he said it should be available in about 20 days

Sent from my SM-N910T3 using Tapatalk
 

cranbiz

Senior Member
May 15, 2011
111
9
Durham, NC
So I completed the exercise of putting my music on my SD card. It was a bit of a pain only because my music was imported on iTunes and iTunes only plays nice with apple products. Some of the tag information wouldn't transfer over. It's a 32 gig card that is about half full. It took about 2 minutes or so to read the entire card the 1st time it was inserted. Now it reads 90% of the card in about 30 seconds and the last 10% takes another 30 seconds or so. The music will start playing within about 10 seconds of the unit fully booting. My videos won't play but they may be in the wrong format.

Sent from my SPH-L720 using XDA Free mobile app

Video from USB or SD card needs to be mp4, mkz or wma format. AVI is not supported except for the DVD player.

Had the same issue as you when playing with my new 4100NEX.
 
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ANDRESVELASCO

New member
May 11, 2012
1
0
I have seen some threads where people are talking about porting android auto to an android head unit. I have also seen some threads where people are talking about putting android auto on a tablet or phone that they plan to mount in their car. Maybe I'm missing something, but I don't understand the rationale for either of these. If you have an android head unit, don't you already have all of the capabilities of android auto built into your head unit? Similarly if you are going to mount a phone or tablet on your dash then why not use those apps that are already native to your phone/tablet?
.

As a Car Audio enthusiast, the BIg Deal here with having an Android device as Head Unit, is to have direct USB audio (digital output), and then connect to a DAC with analog outputs or a DSP via Optical). Going on this way, sound SQ improvement is HUGE. Also, is nice to have your FLAC collection on the go! (attaching a SSD or thumb drive via USB), and Google Maps/Wise and other fancy apps.

I don't care about those battery explosions and temperature issues, just because I would plan a removable install (to avoid thefts attempts), so I can let the device inside the glove trunk, where temp is lower, and when get in the car, just put it on a magnetic mount and wireless charger. This way, I wouldl have instant start Ups, and just full boot Ups when battery discharges when dont use for a weekend...

My only concern, is about charging and do Usb OTG at same time. Play Hi-res files through USB is a BIG battery drainer... It is a must to have both: usb OTG and Charging at the same time...
I have read that there is a mod on Nexus 7 that allow this... My questions here are:

1) there are others devices options to achieve this?

2) those chinese android HU's can play through USB thumbs and have usb audio at the same time?
 

Pheromeo

New member
Aug 6, 2009
3
0
Galaxy Tab S2 as a car head unit

I use my Galaxy Tab S2 as a car head unit mounted in front of the useless stock head unit and connected by AUX cable.
Highly recommend you to try it, a very good investment :good:
it's a 9.7 inch full hd amoled android L (soon to be M) head unit which you can take out with you so no need to worry about thieves breaking your car window and it's not just sitting there in the car while you're at home or work, you can actually use it 24/7 because, well it's a tablet.
I'm pretty sure that no matter how much you wanna pay, there will be no readily available head unit with those specs so you'll have to do a little manual labor, but it's definitely cheaper and also better than those readily available head units considering the galaxy tab S2 hardware :D

it's about 6 months that I'm using my tablet as head unit, took half a day to build a mount for it and the next day it was good to go,
I was a little worried about top of the tablet getting too hot in the winter because it's kinda blocking about 1 inch of the ac vents but it didn't get as hot as expected and now in hot weather when I use air conditioning in the car it doesn't affect the tablet either, in fact it helps a little to keep it cool.
sometimes I leave it inside the car at night and when the temperature is not too high, but high temperature during the summer will definitely damage the battery, I tell this from the experience with my old phone which I accidentally left in the car under the summer sun for 3 hours.
I usually take it with me because I actually use it at my work place and also download podcasts there and then at home I play games and play content on the home theater system and download podcasts too.
on the road the data connection is there if you need to listen to live radio and download a map or something.
it's a 32GB version and also supports up to 200GB external memory, but I'm just using internal memory and it's been enough for my needs.

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PRThomas

New member
Sep 30, 2016
1
0
I drive a Skoda (VW group) yeti 4*4 in India which comes with a factory fitted 2 DIN touch screen head unit.

Since I'm in India, we never got the option for top of the line nav capable units. Fast forward to 2016, and Skoda is putting out android auto ready units in their newer vehicles. It's not an option to retrofit because of the shape and wiring/ can bus issues.

Given that, I've been admiring the minimalism of android auto, and cursing having to use a nexus 6p as my head unit as far as navigation and voice calling goes.

The Chinese head units, while not pioneer or Kenwood, have canbus compliance and even fascia fitting, given most have specific offerings for VW group cars.

The latest I'm evaluating is a Chinese android 5.1 head unit called MIC AV8, and it may just be what I need. Sorry I can't share a link since I'm a guest. Looks like my current unit, will fit directly without splicing etc, has opd, MFD, steering control integration, etc etc.. does everything the way my current unit does, without looking obviously non OEM. Android auto is available India, but if I cannot get it into my car unless I buy a 2017 model, I'd rather just change my head unit.
 

Spooky_b329

Member
Jan 8, 2010
34
0
Google Pixel 3a
I owned an MTCD Lollipop unit for about 20 days before I started falling out with it, it has now been returned as faulty and just waiting for a refund.

Issues (roughly in order)
  • No lock screen capability (tried remote locking using Android device manager, when trying to unlock it would crash the bootloader and then over-ride the lock screen) In the end I did a factory reset to get rid of the unusable lockscreen) Considering it auto syncs my gmail and I couldn't uninstall the app, I'd rather have at least a boot up PIN.
  • Stock launcher is cluttered and laggy, tried several alternatives before settling on Smart Launcher Pro which seemed to run the smoothest. Some launchers (and apps) have issues with menus/icons spilling off the bottom of the screen and unable to scroll down.
  • Upper edge of screen bezel flexes about, which is lucky as trying to swipe down from the top of the screen is quite fiddly.
  • The nav bar along the top edge is cluttered with spurious items and didn't find an easy way to hide it.
  • Wifi reception merely adequate, had to park my van nose in and have my front door open to get decent Wifi, meaning reversing blind back onto the road
  • Although the volume is often via proper buttons on these units, nothing comes close to a good old fashioned knob.
  • Couldn't find an easy way to switch between maps/spotify/radio, whilst driving you have to look for and press the tiny home button and then the relevant icon, and then again to switch back. (Auto has a permanent shortcut bar which would make usage far less distracting)
  • No light sensor for night dimming (probably OK if compatible with your canbus, mine didn't seem to respond to headlight usage but my vehicle isn't included on the canbus list)
  • I used an NFC sticker to trigger the hotspot on my phone, but you then have to watch the data usage as the head unit thinks its on Wifi. So that means setting Spotify to offline mode and/or standard quality as it will try and auto update playlists, at least on my phone it knows to download on wifi at high quality or stream on mobile data at standard quality. Similarly, apps will update over your mobile data, treating it as wifi. (Auto units, being connected to the phone, presumably allow the phone to continue to control its data consumption depending on the connection type)
  • The unit replaced a factory fitted Clarion touchscreen unit that broke, and the van is fitted with a Clarion reversing camera. It doesn't work, the unit displays a yellow exclamation and no video feed. The seller claims you have to buy their own cameras for compatibility, I say the unit is flakey. I've seen similar reports of issues but nothing to suggest units by other rebranders need to be used with specific cameras.
  • The unit runs hot and I've never seen the cooling fan at the back operating. (suspect faulty)

I'm now debating which Android Auto unit to buy - don't like the Pioneer at all, the foil style buttons and bendy facia looks no better than the chinese units, and the menus seem very unintuitive.

Ultimately, I found I was only using radio/spotify/maps whilst driving, but finding the interface fiddly or distracting. Auto appears to work better on those key functions without the associated clutter and menus.
 
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tony_2018

Senior Member
Aug 17, 2009
59
3
I owned an MTCD Lollipop unit for about 20 days before I started falling out with it, it has now been returned as faulty and just waiting for a refund.

Issues (roughly in order)
  • No lock screen capability (tried remote locking using Android device manager, when trying to unlock it would crash the bootloader and then over-ride the lock screen) In the end I did a factory reset to get rid of the unusable lockscreen) Considering it auto syncs my gmail and I couldn't uninstall the app, I'd rather have at least a boot up PIN.
  • Stock launcher is cluttered and laggy, tried several alternatives before settling on Smart Launcher Pro which seemed to run the smoothest. Some launchers (and apps) have issues with menus/icons spilling off the bottom of the screen and unable to scroll down.
  • Upper edge of screen bezel flexes about, which is lucky as trying to swipe down from the top of the screen is quite fiddly.
  • The nav bar along the top edge is cluttered with spurious items and didn't find an easy way to hide it.
  • Wifi reception merely adequate, had to park my van nose in and have my front door open to get decent Wifi, meaning reversing blind back onto the road
  • Although the volume is often via proper buttons on these units, nothing comes close to a good old fashioned knob.
  • Couldn't find an easy way to switch between maps/spotify/radio, whilst driving you have to look for and press the tiny home button and then the relevant icon, and then again to switch back. (Auto has a permanent shortcut bar which would make usage far less distracting)
  • No light sensor for night dimming (probably OK if compatible with your canbus, mine didn't seem to respond to headlight usage but my vehicle isn't included on the canbus list)
  • I used an NFC sticker to trigger the hotspot on my phone, but you then have to watch the data usage as the head unit thinks its on Wifi. So that means setting Spotify to offline mode and/or standard quality as it will try and auto update playlists, at least on my phone it knows to download on wifi at high quality or stream on mobile data at standard quality. Similarly, apps will update over your mobile data, treating it as wifi. (Auto units, being connected to the phone, presumably allow the phone to continue to control its data consumption depending on the connection type)
  • The unit replaced a factory fitted Clarion touchscreen unit that broke, and the van is fitted with a Clarion reversing camera. It doesn't work, the unit displays a yellow exclamation and no video feed. The seller claims you have to buy their own cameras for compatibility, I say the unit is flakey. I've seen similar reports of issues but nothing to suggest units by other rebranders need to be used with specific cameras.
  • The unit runs hot and I've never seen the cooling fan at the back operating. (suspect faulty)

I'm now debating which Android Auto unit to buy - don't like the Pioneer at all, the foil style buttons and bendy facia looks no better than the chinese units, and the menus seem very unintuitive.

Ultimately, I found I was only using radio/spotify/maps whilst driving, but finding the interface fiddly or distracting. Auto appears to work better on those key functions without the associated clutter and menus.

I have to ask, why the hell would you want to put a lock screen on the double din...I see no reason for that.

How did you connect the camera to the unit and what model is the clarion camera? The camera probably didn't get power. I don't kno because I have no idea how you hooked that up.
 

Spooky_b329

Member
Jan 8, 2010
34
0
Google Pixel 3a
Lock screen or startup pin....why? For a start, because Google syncs all my e-mails, which means anyone who gets hold of the radio coukd trigger a substantial number of password resets on various accounts. Only a fool would carry a smartphone with no security enabled...right?

Camera...I'm not an idiot, yes the camera is powered. Connected via the yellow phono plugs. I know how to use a multimeter and soldering iron, wiring isn't an issue.
 

nixfu

Senior Member
Mar 8, 2013
201
70
Most of these are not big issues to me.

>Considering it auto syncs my gmail and I couldn't uninstall the app

Umm, you can turn off email sync, 2) you CAN uninstall the app pretty easily on a rooted unit or if using a custom rom like Malaysk's. Zero need for a phone-style screen lock on these units. That is just silly and something you should not be dealing with while driving anyway. You should not really have any data on these other than maps and mp3's.

>Stock launcher is cluttered and laggy,
The stock launchers pretty much only show the current time, and have icons to start apps. They are pretty non-laggy and stripped down already and are designed to be used in the vehicle, which they do well.

>Upper edge of screen bezel flexes about, which is lucky as trying to swipe down from the top of the screen is quite fiddly.
That is not a problem on two Joying's that I have. Must have been a particular model.

>The nav bar along the top edge is cluttered with spurious items and didn't find an easy way to hide it.
The Xposed mtc-statusbar module has an easy way to enable/disable nearly every single thing on that bar.

>Wifi reception merely adequate, had to park my van nose in and have my front door open to get decent Wifi, meaning reversing blind back onto the road
By default most of these don't come with an antenna, they just have a little exposed coax wire on the end with some heatshrink. But, it's pretty easy to solder on a real SMA antenna connector and use a real much better wifi antenna if you want. I have an external wifi antenna on my jeep now connected to the head unit and can get wifi from restaurants outside easily.

>Although the volume is often via proper buttons on these units, nothing comes close to a good old fashioned knob.
Yeah, I would never buy those head units without knobs and with buttons only. In fact I purposely got one of the Joying with a knob. So you could have just picked a different model.

>Couldn't find an easy way to switch between maps/spotify/radio, whilst driving you have to look for and press the tiny home button and then the relevant icon, and then again to switch back.
That is a bit of a hassle, however you should not be doing this while driving anyway. If you need a map, use the map, if you want to listen to music then use the player, otherwise just play the music in the background and live with it. I do believe though you can map a steering wheel control(I don' t have any) to switch between apps I believe.

>No light sensor for night dimming
The new MTCD units have a day brightness and night brightness settings and they are also tied properly into the headlights coming on/off now.

>Similarly, apps will update over your mobile data.
You should disable auto-update in google play, and figure out how to disable stuff in other apps as well such as automatic album art etc. If an app can't be properly disabled to not use the network, then you should realize it is a phone app, and maybe not appropriate to run on these devices.

I use a freedom pop wifi hotpost and I get 500mb/month free wifi for my head unit and it works fine for weather, maps, traffic etc.

>The seller claims you have to buy their own cameras for compatibility
Nah, you can use any camera from anyone that outputs a proper NTSC composite video signal. I have bought probably 6-8 of them (night vision, license plate, stick on, etc) and tested them all and they all worked if you connected the reverse line and the camera power lines correctly. I would say faulty unit. Hopefully you purchased from a decent seller like carjoying who actually provide some customer service, and not just the cheapest you could find on aliexpress.

>The unit runs hot and I've never seen the cooling fan at the back operating. (suspect faulty)
Must be faulty. These units are very low power hardware and using phone processors. They should require no more cooling than a phone handset.


I have installed and have owned two units. A MTCB generation and a MTCD generation one. Yes, these are rough and require some DIY skills. But excellent value for what you get compared to a name-brand. They are usually much more capable in the right hands and not as locked down and limited as well. But that is a two-edged sword, with power comes responsibility.

If you are unwilling to spend some effort on your own to mess with them, from both a hardware and software standpoint, then get a name brand device of some sort.

For me, the fact I could buy about 4 of these for the cost of one name-brand unit that would have 1/10th the functionality, and usually never get upgrades or updates after the first year of the product, etc was a no brainer to me. Your mileage may vary.
 
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Spooky_b329

Member
Jan 8, 2010
34
0
Google Pixel 3a
Thanks for your comments. I paid £225 ish for an MTCD unit by Xtrons, considering £425 gets me a nice Sony unit (when they release it - December perhaps) I'm going to wait for that. In the meantime, the Clarion unit is being sent off to see if it can be repaired for a reasonable fee :(
 

sgtm7

Member
Oct 22, 2015
7
2
About 1 1/2 years ago, I installed a Pumpkin with 4.4.4 Android. I have been extremely happy with it. There was a problem with the wifi being weak at times I had to pull the stereo out and move the wifi wire. There is also a problem with the volume being low for music apps. I went into factory settings, and discovered the system volume was set lower than the external inputs(like Ipod). I just increased the volume for the system. Occasionally when going back and forth between an app and an external input, the volume will decrease for the app. I have to go back into factory settings. Also, the Bluetooth doesn't always automatically connect with paired devices. That is the extent of the problems I have had. I am willing to deal with them until one of the brand name companies come out with a unit that actually runs on Android the same way my phone does. I just ordered a Joying running 5.1.1 Android. This will go in a second car.
 

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    I have seen some threads where people are talking about porting android auto to an android head unit. I have also seen some threads where people are talking about putting android auto on a tablet or phone that they plan to mount in their car. Maybe I'm missing something, but I don't understand the rationale for either of these. If you have an android head unit, don't you already have all of the capabilities of android auto built into your head unit? Similarly if you are going to mount a phone or tablet on your dash then why not use those apps that are already native to your phone/tablet?

    The reason I ask is because I'm in the market for a new car stereo and the differences in cost between an aftermarket head unit with android auto and an android head unit (i.e. no-name chinese brand, etc) seem quite large. I've seen the reviews on here, Youtube and other places for some of the Chinese units and they seem very feature rich. Please help me make a list of pros and cons to buying a head unit with Android Auto and an Android Head Unit. Here are just a few that I can come up with.

    Android Auto Pros:
    - brand name likely with superior product support
    - likely better stock stereo features (HD radio, RDS, Sirius XM, etc
    - it is "safer" because it doesn't allow searching long music lists, etc while driving
    - As long as the firmware can be updated to include later Android versions, when you want to update your Android phone its a lot easier than updating an entire stereo when a newer version of Android on Android HUs become available.

    Android Auto Cons:
    - Not all phones are supported from what I understand
    - Some popular apps are not supported (i.e. Pandora
    - Requires phone to be connected via USB. I'm not sure if this is necessarily a con however, because I'm assuming if you are using your phone as a hotspot you may need to have it plugged in regardless.
    - While I'm not sure about this (correct me if I'm wrong), but I assume since you're mirroring your phone apps to a non-android device there is another layer of technology that can have bugs in and of itself
    - Requires additional apps on your phone eating up space and resources
    - relatively expensive

    Android Head Unit Pros:
    - No need for specific phone support
    - Any app you can download on the app store you can use in your dash. Not that I'm going to be watching netflix driving down the road, but maybe my passenger wants to look up a good mexican restaurant on Yelp while we're driving.
    - You can use a wifi hotspot other than your phone to provide the wireless signal if you want
    - You can root these if they are not already rooted and run custom rom
    - You can run Torque
    - relatively cheap for what you get

    Android Head Unit Cons:
    - It seems like most of these are Chinese brands with little product support from the [unkknown] manufacture
    - many complaints about internal mics and whatnot (although thanks to sites like this there are some workarounds for that)
    - I'm guessing the quality of the stereo itself is probably not as good as when you purchase US brand name deck.


    I can understand why the general public (mom, dad included) might see a benefit in having a car with an OEM-included Android Auto stereo if they're already using an Android phone and they like it. However for people who frequent this site, barring intellectual curiosity or being an audiophile who needs a top-of-the-line Pioneer deck and wants to be able to make hands-free calls or use Google Maps, I want to know why you all would choose a stereo with Android Auto vs an Android Head Unit. Thanks in advance for discussing this.
    4
    I have seen some threads where people are talking about porting android auto to an android head unit. I have also seen some threads where people are talking about putting android auto on a tablet or phone that they plan to mount in their car. Maybe I'm missing something, but I don't understand the rationale for either of these. If you have an android head unit, don't you already have all of the capabilities of android auto built into your head unit? Similarly if you are going to mount a phone or tablet on your dash then why not use those apps that are already native to your phone/tablet?

    Android enthusiasts with a budget consider MANY details and tradeoffs before deciding on a new phone or tablet. Do I NEED NFC ? Can I make do without an SDCard and only 32 GB ? What size is best ?...

    Similarly, those of us looking for automotive infotainment solutions have a complex set of needs and desires, and many different solutions all with their own pros and cons, as your post shows... :)

    A person running my Headunit app for Android Auto (AA) on a phone or tablet, with or without another connected phone/tablet/device can get the integrated Android Auto experience at low, or no cost.

    Run the app on your existing Android 5+ device in standalone mode and you've got AA for no additional cost. Or buy a Nexus 7 2013 for $150 new, run it standalone, or USB (or Wifi) connect to your phone. Quick, simple, cheap and upgradeable/hackable. Add a $20 car mount and a cheap cigar lighter outlet charger and plug it in.

    Want better sound than crappy small speakers ? Plug headphone jack or do BT connect to an existing amp or HU.

    Worried about theft or frying by cold or hot temperatures ? Remove phone/tablet from mount and take it with you when parked. $150 tablet breaks ? Buy a new one...

    With my Headunit app for AA, you can "Recent Apps" away to home-screen and any other app. Then go back to the AA environment. Yes, some issues like sound require stopping and later restarting my app, but that's not so bad.


    Some people will like the integrated, low distraction environment of AA.

    Many Android enthusiasts will prefer the ability to easily run any Android app. Some of those apps may be very distracting, and WILL get you ticketed in many jurisdictions. Youtube is going to be "frowned on" at best by almost any cop.


    The reason I ask is because I'm in the market for a new car stereo and the differences in cost between an aftermarket head unit with android auto and an android head unit (i.e. no-name chinese brand, etc) seem quite large. I've seen the reviews on here, Youtube and other places for some of the Chinese units and they seem very feature rich. Please help me make a list of pros and cons to buying a head unit with Android Auto and an Android Head Unit. Here are just a few that I can come up with.

    There's a current thread wherein the OP feels he wasted his money on the Chinese HU (can we call them CHUs ?), and is wondering whether to get a different one or just go for a more expensive HU.

    Many users seem to be happy with the CHUs, but I think many are unhappy as well. IMO many people get blocked by "gotcha's" and there are many annoying things in the software that nobody anywhere seems to be interested in fixing.

    To me, Android 4.4.4 (at best) is almost an insult in late 2015 when Android 6.0 is about to be released (and has been running pretty well on my Nexus9 and other's 5's and 6's for months now.)

    For those who like to tinker on the "bleeding edge" there are boards that run Android that can be hooked to touch-screens. I'm looking at this with a "96boards" project someone has started. $75 board designed by, and runs the latest Android from Qualcomm.


    I think one dynamic here is that respected HU manufacturers don't want to provide full mirroring of smartphones, or an internal Android OS, lest they be sued into oblivion by distracted driving deaths and maimings.

    The CHU OEMs are in China and would laugh if someone threatened to sue them.

    And yeah, tablet in a car will have issues with temp/humidity and reliability, and USB connections are not "auto grade" and Wifi has issues too.

    So, no perfect solution. Same as no perfect phone, tablet or person...
    1
    I don't buy the 'android auto is safer' argument - does self control not exist anymore? You can configure an android head unit to just have 5 icons & hide the status bar if you want.
    For me, Android auto is far too limiting. On my Android head unit I can customise everything exactly to my taste & what I want to see.

    I agree in wishing that there was a 'premium grade' option of android HU & not just Chinese no name built to the lowest cost options & would gladly pay a bit more for quality DACs, regular software updates etc, but the latest models really aren't that bad.
    1
    Then again, like this thread has repeated so many times, AA is very limiting. And we all have androids mainly for the reason of user control and customization. I'd love to hear some feedback from anyone who has used both systems and what they like / dislike about each.

    I've never owned a Chinese HU, but am avoiding them so far because they all seem to have many little problems that are unlikely to ever be fixed, to say nothing of being forever stuck on Android 4.4 or earlier.

    I think most flexible is Pioneer HUs that support AA, CarPlay, AND AppRadio.

    AppRadio with the AppRadio Unchained Reloaded app allows full mirroring of your phone to the HU. Voila: An HU that "runs" whatever your phone runs. And with the option of going to AA or CarPlay if needed.
    1
    Please come back in 30 days or so and let us know if you are still as happy.

    I hate to be a "downer", but reading the forums I can see that many people come across many little problems in day to day usage, and they post on XDA asking if anyone has solutions.

    Of course, as always, people who are happy are less likely to post. And if you are happy, that's great and I'm happy that you're happy. I'm not posting just to criticize and be a "hater". :)


    Are you OK with this device having Kitkat, and likely no upgrade ever to Lollipop ?

    it has been over 3 months and if anything were to happen i would either try to fix it or exchange it for a new one..yeah im fine with kitkat..now if a new android unit comes out i would get it