The Motorola MA1 USB dongle replaces a USB cable to wirelessly connect your smartphone to compatible Android Auto cars.
Don’t read on if you don’t have Android Auto in your car or if you’re an Apple iPhone user (you use Apple CarPlay).
Australian review: Motorola MA1
What is Android Auto?
Android Auto is Android for your car’s infotainment system. Via an Android smartphone (usually using a USB cable) and using its mobile data, it provides access to Android Auto compatible applications such as Maps, Phone, Calendar, Contacts, and many others. It also activates Google Assistant, usually from the voice button on your car’s steering wheel. Crucially, it doesn’t replace your existing infotainment functionality – you can still use its navigation, Bluetooth, radio and all relevant automaker apps.
To be clear, your car should have it as part of its infotainment system. Alternatively, many cars made up to about five years ago may have a software upgrade from the manufacturer to enable it (contact your dealership and understand there is a cost). Or if your infotainment system is incompatible, there are plenty of third-party replacements.
Although it adds Google Android features and apps like Spotify, YouTube Music, Audible, VLC (video player) and many more, keep in mind that it chews up mobile data and won’t work if you don’t. don’t have 4G connectivity.
And to be very clear, it doesn’t control any aspect of the car in any way outside of what you see on the infotainment screen.
What is the Motorola MA1 Wireless Android Auto Connector?
This is a USB-A dongle that you plug into the car’s designated Android Auto USB-A port. During setup, you connect the Android smartphone to it via Bluetooth, and then it configures the Android Auto 5 GHz wireless network. Voila – Android Auto recognizes this and should show an Android Auto home screen instead of your car home screen. To return to your car’s original home screen, select the car logo or remove the Motorola MA1 USB drive.
Configuration – none really
Assuming your Android Auto works with a USB cable, you simply replace the cable with this one. It comes with a handy double-sided self-adhesive pad if needed.
A few caveats to consider
- Mobile data is expensive and not always available. You might be better off downloading audio from a streaming service and playing it over Bluetooth
- Your smartphone uses more battery, so it’s good to put it in a charging cradle or find an extra USB port to charge it at the same time
- There are penalties in many states just for having a smartphone in plain sight instead of a cradle.
- If you’re happy with the Bluetooth connection to your infotainment system, do you need Android Auto?
- It does not act as a Wi-Fi hotspot for in-car Wi-Fi (not intended for)
- Any compatible Android phone can connect (only one at a time)
- Connection can take up to 20 seconds, while a USB cable is almost instantaneous
- Loss of mobile internet means that map navigation stops until it becomes available. Conversely, Google Maps/Traffic is far more up-to-date than most in-car navigation systems.
CyberShack’s take – Motorola MA1 makes Android Auto wireless – a great product if you need it
Reading some of the foreign user reviews (it’s new in the market here), most of them are very happy with it and are experienced Android Auto users.
But there’s that proportion that just couldn’t make it work (and I guess that’s because they didn’t have an Android Auto compatible car). May I suggest you buy it from Amazon instead of Telstra as it has a no questions asked return policy if it doesn’t work for you.
We won’t officially rate it as it’s the first one we’ve reviewed. Many generic brands offer similar functionality, but we think it’s best to stick with Motorola as a well-known and respected brand with local support.
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