11 November 2017

Android Auto

We drive a CRV, and it doesn't have a CD player. This is a problem with kids because we like to listen to music without ads, and I'm not willing to pay for Sirius XM. There are a couple ways to connect to the car's audio system with the phone, but no "line in" like our Accord has for plugging in a phone to the speakers. The options are Bluetooth and the Android Auto app while connected via USB.

Bluetooth works fine when it works. It automatically connects and starts playing (although it favors Google Play, and if you stop the car playing an Overdrive audio book you have to navigate back to it when you start the car again, which is annoying). But sometimes Bluetooth doesn't work and there's skipping and stuttering in the playback. We cannot abide by this -- it makes listening to audio books excruciating, and we've been listening to a lot of Junie B. Jones audio books checked out from the library.

When that started happening regularly I started to look for another solution. I looked on the Honda website and watched some tutorial videos. The Android Audio app seemed like a good solution (and it's also the only other option!).

It has not worked that great for me so far.

I downloaded the app, although it's pretty slow and hard to use. I have to run most apps off the SD card in my phone because I have such little memory. But this app won't run on an SD card, so it's sluggishness can't be attributed to that. (Some of the apps that try to run from SD just won't work properly and are beyond frustrating to use ... but I digress.)

The app will start automatically, but for whatever reason half the time I get "incompatible device" or "no device connected" messages when the phone is plugged in properly to the correct USB port. My cable is new. If I do manage to get it playing I can't touch the phone or it will disconnect. The playback is fine; we have no skipping issues, but the ordeal to get connected and make it work sometimes takes as long as wherever we're driving.

And it is NOT safe for me to be fiddling with the phone when all I want to do is hear the next chapter of the book we're listening to -- or Itsy Bitsy Spider for the one thousandth time ... that's Liv's jam as of late. Even when I can get it connected the phone is slow and will lag as I try to navigate. And if I do need to look at my phone (say for a text that came in before driving) I can't get to what I need to get to, even if the car is stopped.

When driving and the phone is connected by Bluetooth the car will read text messages received. But it won't do it via Android Auto because it needs a data connection to access Google voice. So not having that feature is aggravating (not that I get that many texts, but some).

For now we're back to Bluetooth because it's less dangerous and kind of automatic. I still have to fiddle with the phone to find Junie B, but it's more straightforward than getting the app open, navigating to the app within the app and playing.

Would a better phone work more easily? I know Apple devices are compatible and easy to use (although I don't know anyone with an iPhone, no data and a CRV). I'm not likely to have a data package any time soon regardless of the phone ... although would data access make it work? I don't know because it isn't easy to connect even when sitting in my driveway with WiFi. I've had my phone for just over two years, and it wasn't a new model when I got it.

Another aggravation turned NaBloPoMo fodder...

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