How to Add Android Auto to Prime LTD

Discussion in 'Prime Audio, Electronics, and Infotainment' started by N3rd, Feb 20, 2021.

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  1. N3rd

    N3rd Junior Member

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    OK. So this is a new thread and not a reply because it is actually ... a success story on how to add Android Auto to a 2020 (mine) prime limited. And AA Wireless at that !

    Since I have not seen them mentioned yet directly what you should now look into if you really want some Android Auto is "carplay AI box" devices you can also sometimes find them called "Carplay MMB". They are similar to the wireless carplay adapters but based on android.

    I purchased one from Joye Auto but there are probably 15 - 20 different ones and almost all are just rebranded versions of maybe 3 models.

    They look like a USB harddrive (the 2.5" ones) and only have two usb ports , no other connectors.

    There is also a more advanced (aka newer / faster) version that is more of a hardwired unit. I did not get one of those. They are less common and more $.

    The unit is essentlly an Android device that does not have a screen. It runs Android 7 and, in the case of my device, has 4gb ram and 32gb storage on the device. When plugged into the Prius USB port it impersonates Carplay in order to work but displays the android interface.

    If you are just interested in getting something on the display that is not the useless toyota map you can buy one of these devices, connect it to your phones hot spot or get it its own, and functioanlly have android running on your display.

    When any 'Carplay' device connects to the prius the prius shuts down the bluetooth connection to other devices. That is OK because these devices have their own bluetooth link that allows you to make calls.

    In my case though I really just wanted android auto. I could care less about regular android but the AA bit is more complicated.

    Here is the summary.

    - Get the Carplay AI Box
    - Set it up as much as you please. In my case it was nearly no custom setup.
    - Install 'Headunit Reloaded' which is an android app, onto the AI Box device
    - Install the matching WifiLauncher app from the same developer if you want Android Auto Wireless (!)
    - Setup HUR appropriately.
    - Setup the Launcher App

    You can search on the XDA website for a headunit reloaded forum that has plenty of conversation about setting it up. (i am not writing a guide here, just letting everyone know it worked!)

    When you get in the car you turn on the HUR app and the phone connects and you have AA. Thats basically it!


    To note. I have an un-rooted Galaxy S21 Ultra phone (aka new). Your mileage may vary with success.

    THINGS THAT DONT WORK (for me so far):
    - If I try to play bluetooh AUDIO through the Android AI Box -without- headunit reloaded the audio does not play. Calls work just fine.

    - I had to fight the samsung to get it to allow mobile data while connected to AA Wireless. AA wireless uses ... wireless to connect and when it does it can mess up the data flow because the phone wants to go through the wifi connection but the wifi is just connected to the android device that has no data.

    - I am working in getting the HUR app to start automatically. As it is now, when I get in the car I do have to start the app by pressing the shortcut for it. Its possibe with automation (macrodroid / tasker) i just have not yet.

    - the steering wheel buttons for BACK/NEXT and PHONE do NOT work in android auto so you have to use the ones on the display. The volume on the wheel works fine. Supposedly they work more for people that have the more expensive newer units I mentioned earlier.

    - The steering wheel PHONE buttons do work when only connected to the AI BOX alone and not using Android Auto.


    Everything else seems good. I know for non-phone geek folk it may be confusing that I am talking about two layers of android and an app on top but thats what it is. Carplay USB > Android Device in a box > Headunit App > Android Auto on the phone.

    It's convoluted but works and is the closest thing until Toyota pulls their head out of their .. you know.

    Attaching photo here too. It of course says 'Carplay' at the top because the prius thinks its carplay but you can see the android auto actually in use.


    *** FYI you can use headunit reloaded with just a USB link, its easier to setup. But I really wanted the wireless setup. I can get in the car, throw the phone on the wireless charger and in 60 secs have android auto up.

    -N3
     

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  2. priuschatMliang2

    priuschatMliang2 New Member

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    @N3rd

    Thanks for the post! Seems like you're the only one posting about using headunit reloaded w/ that box.

    My Toyota also only has Carplay. It doesn't have wireless charging.

    Android auto uses lots of battery while running. Do you know if the usb port from the device supplies enough power to keep the phone charged while connect to android auto via cable instead of AA wireless?

    thank you!
     
  3. Schrauger

    Schrauger Junior Member

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    This is really cool! I looked through a lot of the threads on xda about this after learning about them here. I'm planning to buy the newer, more expensive version. It seems the extra cost is worth it for me. It runs faster, uses a newer version of android (9.0), and works with the steering wheel navigation buttons for media. $400 from ali express, so we'll see how it works in a month when it gets here.
     
  4. Refurbmike

    Refurbmike New Member

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    Can you link which one you're getting? I also see there's Android 10 ones out there? Why not get one of those?
     
  5. Schrauger

    Schrauger Junior Member

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    Here's the one I went with. For Chery TIGGO 8 New Upgrade 4+32G Carplay Box Universal Car Android System Car Play USB AI Box All metal fuselage|Car Multimedia Player| - AliExpress

    Not a huge fan of the pink, but it claims to be a metal body as opposed to the plastic ones of the same design elsewhere on aliexpress. For the same price, I figured a metal shell would help with heat dissipation a bit better, and I plan to put the device out of sight anyway.

    I didn't see any android 10 ones. Could you link to one you're seeing?

     
  6. Schrauger

    Schrauger Junior Member

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    Not sure about the one OP posted, but the one I got says it has quick charge 3.0. Even if your phone isn't qc 3.0 compatible, it should still be able to push out a good amount of power over usb-a. I haven't tested it though, since it's still shipping.

    With the version that OP has, I think the device only plugs into the carplay usb slot and nothing else, so plugging your phone into the android box will make you share whatever power the car gives to both devices. The more expensive version I'm getting requires you to grab power from the fusebox or similar, so it should be capable of outputting all the power your phone needs.

     
  7. Paul Slomba

    Paul Slomba Junior Member

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    Do you happen to know the name of or have a link for the advanced hardwired version?
     
  8. eliteconcept

    eliteconcept 700 mile club, top tank mpg 69.5

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    nice work around, but absolutely ridiculous that on a "high tech" car this does not come standard. Shame on Toyota
     
    snarfo67 and Graz like this.
  9. Froglegs

    Froglegs Junior Member

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    Carplay Wireless Android Auto Ai Box Android 9.0 4+64G For Benz Audi Volvo VW Porsche Honda Mazda Kia Plug and Play Mirrorlink|TV Receiver for Car| - AliExpress

    This has a Qualcomm processor, more memory, and Android 9 (which is still pretty old). It also has some stuff I don't think I would use: GPS, SIM card support.

    I haven't bought one, mostly because I fear it will become a major project to get it working properly. Definitely not plug and play from what I've read on XDA. And I'm hesitant to spend $300 on a half-baked product.
     
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  10. daigo

    daigo Junior Member

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    is there anyway to mirror screen from my android to my 2021 prime limited?
     
  11. snarfo67

    snarfo67 Junior Member

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    Have you received and installed this yet? The lack of Android Auto is so annoying I'm considering trading the Prius Prime in for a RAV4 Prime. I will have an opportunity to buy one in a couple weeks, but if this works I'd be happy to save the money...
     
  12. Froglegs

    Froglegs Junior Member

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  13. N3rd

    N3rd Junior Member

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    Yeah. Those new ones look interesting. I would hope they continue to improve as newer hardware is available. Mine is slow and really just passable for the Android auto function to make longer trips in the car easier.

    FYI (sorry for the forever lag) the pass through power from the device I use from the OP is pretty sad. It can just barely keep the battery on my s21 even. Won't really charge it.

    I typically use the wireless charger built into the car and Android auto wireless rather then the USB cable.
     
  14. snarfo67

    snarfo67 Junior Member

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    Nice find. I just ordered one for $241.20 including shipping. If I end up buying a RAV4 Prime before I receive it I'll see if anyone here on PriusChat wants to buy it (at cost, not looking to get into the scalping business).
     
  15. Prime2022XLE

    Prime2022XLE New Member

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    I found this Exploter unit ($245) that I think it's the same as the one in AliExpress mentioned before. I emailed them and confirmed the SIM card doesnt work in USA since it doesnt have the right bands. Also, coincidentally I found this "AA Activator" today ($141).

    As I understand, the first unit offers full Android support (as OP mentioned, it's basically a stand alone screen-less phone) minus the SIM function in USA so to use Google Maps or any other app in the USA you will need the hotspot from your phone. Not sure how calls (over phone, whastapp....) will work but I assume they will run over the hotspot but not sure if it will work. You can run AA from the unit. But you can also mirror your phone wirelessly (no need for HeadUnit reloader) so you can run AA in your phone and mirror to the unit. You can also mirror any other app from your phone to the car screen.

    The second unit seems to be just an wireless AA adaptor so basically if your phone supports wireless AA then you run AA in your phone and it just shows it in your screen. No mirroring of any other apps in your phone (unless their are run through AA) and no running of any Android apps from the car screen either.

    Im still debating which one to get and it seems (for a car in the USA) the main difference is if I just want AA in the car screen, then get the 2nd unit. If I also want to run other non-AA apps (Youtube, Torque, Gmail, pics...) then get the 1st unit.

    Any other things I missed?

    (EDIT: cant post links since Im new, but google "Exploter Applepie" for the first and search AliExpress for "2021 Wireless Android Auto Activator For Original Car Built in Wired Apple CarPlay /Plug And Play AAwireless Auto Module" for second unit)
     
  16. Froglegs

    Froglegs Junior Member

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    So I bought the Apple Pie Mini UX999 from AliExpress. Took about 2 weeks to get to NY. It's a nice looking unit, very small and light.
    When I plugged the included cable into the box, it felt a bit hard to plug in. I probably pushed harder than I should have. Anyway, the device would not power up. AliExpress customer service is not great, so keep that in mind. They ended up refunding me $60, or I would have to send the unit back to China to get a full refund. Nah.

    Eventually, I looked inside the USB connector and saw that one of the pins was bent over. I tried to move it back into place with a small tool, but it broke off. Luckily, it seems to be a redundant connection, because it now works!

    It is not a great experience. It does include all apps needed to get AA up and running, but It took some fiddling with settings to get it to not be unbearably slow. Afraid I don't remember exactly what I changed.

    I'm an Android fan-boy, but never really liked Android Auto. Had it on my 2018 Mercedes, and only tried it a couple of times. It was just much worse than using the car's native software. But the Toyota navigation is so bad, I thought I'd give it another shot.

    The navigation is better, but the rest is pretty terrible. It takes about 30 seconds to boot up, and another 30 or more for my phone to connect. On the Prime Limited it takes up less than half of the big screen, which is a quite a small area. Sometimes PocketCasts audio plays fine, sometimes it drops out constantly. My Pixel 5 gets really warm doing wireless AA, and it drains the normally awesome battery like crazy.

    I'll probably only use it for long trips ... you can watch Netflix on your car screen using the native app on the device! Other than that, it's just too many compromises for me.
     
  17. snarfo67

    snarfo67 Junior Member

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    I received my unit (the same one as @Froglegs) a couple days ago and I have some initial thoughts. We have the same model car (2020 Prius Prime Limited) but my experience with the responsiveness has been really good--- it does take about 28-30 seconds to boot up, but at that point it's fully loaded and ready to go. I don't have the additional phone connection delay or interface lag he describes, either. My unit didn't arrive damaged so that might be the issue? For the record I'm using my phone as a wifi hotspot to connect the device to the internet as opposed to using a sim card.

    I personally have zero interest in running NetFlix, YouTube, etc., on my car's screen--- all I want to run is vanilla Android Auto... and it works. Kinda. Using voice commands works every time and quickly enough to make me happy. However, Maps usually doesn't know where I am even after toggling 'use oem gps' on in the settings and if I'm playing music then switch to maps the audio suddenly sounds like it's coming out of a tin can until I exit the app and then the sound returns to normal once it's back in the regular interface. The instruction foldout is terrible, but I'm conversant enough with Android (as far as flashing custom ROMs and such) to figure out some hurdles, but the GPS issue and the audio weirdness is puzzling.

    As for pluses, there are some. It's nice to be able to install any Android app. For example, I was able to install the August smart lock app so I can lock and unlock my house doors from my head unit instead of digging out my phone (the automatic unlocking/locking proximity detection on the August smart lock has never worked for me). Playing music or podcasts and using voice commands to do it all works great, I have not experienced any random disconnections, and so far it's only failed to automatically connect and start up once (after maybe 30ish car on/off power cycles) and that was fixed by unplugging the USB cable and plugging it back in.

    I don't know if trying a SIM and signing up for a data plan would fix these issues, but I don't want to do that. If anyone has some suggestions or tips I'm here for them! I have at least a couple weeks before the RAV4 Prime gets here so I should have plenty of time to tinker. If I could get either Android Auto working smoothly or Maps working in the regular interface I think I'd be happy.
     
    #17 snarfo67, Sep 29, 2021
    Last edited: Sep 29, 2021
  18. Froglegs

    Froglegs Junior Member

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    I'm not using my phone as a hotspot, so the box has no internet connection for several reasons: I'm cheap, and don't want it using my data (which I pay for by the megabyte).

    More importantly, this thing runs an old version of Android, likely full of security holes, so I'm not comfortable having it connected to the internet. Maybe at least create a separate Google account for it, so it doesn't have access to my entire life.

    And the last reason is that it doesn't really need an internet connection when running Android Auto. Your phone is just projecting onto the car screen using the box. That's why Toyota calls it "projection".
     
  19. snarfo67

    snarfo67 Junior Member

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    Good points all, though without an internet connection there's no way to stream music, podcasts, use Google Assistant, play videos, get app updates, etc. For devices like this that I might have trust issues with I use a personal Google account that has contacts but no other real data unless someone wants to know how much I listen to LCD Soundsystem, Kate Bush, and Gary Numan while driving to get sushi... I keep all the important stuff on a work account. I installed Android Auto onto the UX-999 instead of running it from my phone, so it's doing the heavy lifting (I don't have Android Auto installed on my phone at all). My job pays for my phone and service so I'm at least lucky in that regard.
     
  20. Schrauger

    Schrauger Junior Member

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    I have that issue with Google maps as well. But I don't have a problem when I use Waze. Must be how the app is designed, since I know android has different audio streams or channels based on the type of sound (music, alert, call, etc).
     
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