Android Auto Wireless was announced back at CES, where David and I got to see a demo and talk to some of the Auto team about it. Then last month, Google announced that both gens of the Pixels and the Nexus 6P/5X could now project to a compatible head unit wirelessly. Now, according to a press release from Kenwood, all devices running Android 9.0 P and later will be able to wirelessly project Auto.

I find myself a bit skeptical about this, since we're going off the word of one of the head unit manufacturers. However, here is the relevant bit from the PR:

"The only devices that currently support wireless Android Auto are four versions of the Google Pixel—the first-generation Pixel and Pixel XL and the second-generation Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL—and the legacy Nexus 5X and Nexus 6P. They must be upgraded to Android OS 8.0 or higher (via an over-the-air upgrade). For other device manufacturers, wireless Android Auto will be implemented with the adoption of Android OS 9.0 or higher."

The Google I/O keynote is over and done, but we have a long way to go yet. Perhaps we'll hear about this in one of the developer talks, so rest assured that we'll be paying close attention for more word on this. While Android Auto Wireless isn't practical for long-term use, since it hits the phone's battery pretty hard, it adds a level of convenience, so it being available on any device with P could be a big deal.

Kenwood has revised its press release with the following information:

ADDENDUM: In our press release below, we indicated that future smartphones would require Android 9.0 OS to be compatible with KENWOOD multimedia receivers that feature Wireless Android Auto™. Google has informed us that, in addition to 9.0 devices, the company is working with several smartphone manufacturers to bring wireless compatibility to devices with Android 8.0 OS. According to Google, this compatibility will be available on select non-Google smartphones soon.

In short, Android Auto Wireless will come to some more Android phones with 8.0 Oreo. It's unclear which manufacturers Google is working with right now, but hopefully that gets clarified in the near future.

Press Release

LONG BEACH, CALIF., May 9, 2018 (MEDIAWIRE) – In April, KENWOOD USA announced the wireless Android Auto™ feature built into its 2018 flagship multimedia receivers was active and compatible with select Android-based smartphones. The KENWOOD eXcelon Reference Series DNX995S and DDX9905S, as well as the KENWOOD eXcelon DMX905S and KENWOOD DNX875S and DDX9705S, allow the driver to leave the phone in a pocket or bag and still get the benefit of its powerful and useful feature set. Today, the company acknowledged the current smartphone compatibility list is small but growing.

Android Auto is the popular innovation from Google that lets drivers access certain apps and features on their smartphones—navigation, messaging, Google Assistant and more—from the ease and safety of the car radio's multimedia touch screen. Until now, the function required a cable connection between the radio and smartphone. With the implementation of the wireless feature, the smartphone no longer requires a cable for Android Auto to function.

"From our standpoint, wireless Android Auto is fully functional," said Rick Noetzli, general manager for KENWOOD product research and development, car electronics sector. "Our radios can communicate with any smartphone that has the right protocols. It's just that, as of now, there are only a handful of phones that do, and these are currently all Google devices. But we fully expect more smartphone makers to enable the functionality in their devices, and when they do, our receivers will be ready."

The only devices that currently support wireless Android Auto are four versions of the Google Pixel—the first-generation Pixel and Pixel XL and the second-generation Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL—and the legacy Nexus 5X and Nexus 6P. They must be upgraded to Android OS 8.0 or higher (via an over-the-air upgrade). For other device manufacturers, wireless Android Auto will be implemented with the adoption of Android OS 9.0 or higher.

Most smartphone manufacturers will announce when software updates are available and when newer devices ship with the upgraded software. In addition, Google will maintain a compatibility list on its support page at https://support.google.com/androidauto. Under “Get started with Android Auto,” the current list of compatible smartphones is displayed under “Android Auto on your car (wireless).” (The location of this information is subject to change.)

All KENWOOD multimedia receivers that support wireless Android Auto offer full compatibility and smartphone charging through a wired connection. For detailed information on the specific features of each receiver, please view their product pages at kenwood.com/usa/car.