The constantly merging worlds of technology have brought with them incredible convenience. What would once have cost thousands of dollars in high-end media systems and third party satellite navigation products can now be achieved with nothing more than a decent cradle and the phone that you already own. You don’t need to worry about spending thousands on a proprietary media system for your car, only to have it be outdated within a few months.
Android Auto is Google’s answer to this particular problem, allowing you to use your phone to perform all the tasks those expensive media systems would formerly have taken care of. Of course, the obvious question to ask when considering using this application is:
Does Android Auto use data? And the answer, yes. It is possible to use Android Auto in a limited fashion without using data, but to get the most out of the app you will need a data connection.
What is Android Auto?
The easiest way to think of Android Auto is as a car-friendly overlay for your Android phone. Larger text and buttons for easier control while driving, a stronger-than-usual emphasis on voice control, and, for vehicles that support it, the ability to mirror your android screen to the car’s internal display, making for a much smoother experience.
Does Android Auto Use Data?
Android Auto uses data to bring you a variety of different services while you are driving. These range from media apps like Spotify, to navigation via Google Maps, and even Google Assistant, which has to check in with Google’s servers to parse your speech.
It is possible to use Android Auto without using any data-as we’ll talk about shortly-though it would significantly reduce the features at your disposal.
How Much Data Does Android Auto Use?
The amount of data that Android Auto uses will vary greatly depending on what you are doing with it. For example, Google Maps uses around 0.7mb every ten miles of driving. So, if you are using Google Maps for your navigation, you would be using twice as much data at sixty miles per hour than your would at thirty miles per hour.
Furthermore, if you are playing music through a music streaming app, that will add to your data usage. The most popular of these apps, Spotify, clocks in at roughly 40mb per hour of constant music playing.
So, let’s say you are driving down a freeway at an average speed of sixty miles per hour, and you are playing music through Spotify as you go. You will be using roughly 45mb per hour or a little over 1% of a typical cell data plan.
This doesn’t take into account any other data use, such as asking Google Assistant to tell you the weather or something similar. However, it would be impossible to quantify the data used in this way as it will change significantly depending on how often you are speaking to Google and what your requests are.
How to Limit Data Usage When Not Using Android Maps
The most obvious way to limit data usage is to turn data off on your phone, though this will severely limit the functionality you have. The next thing to do is to make sure all of your apps are set to be more conservative when not on WiFi. For the most part, this should be the default setting, but it is possible to tell certain apps to ignore this restriction and do things like download updates or play higher-quality versions of songs.
Our final suggestion for reducing data usage is to make use of offline features more. Spotify, for example, allows premium users to download most songs so that they can be played when you don’t have an Internet connection.
How to Stop Android Auto From Using a Lot of Data
In addition to the things we mentioned above, it is also possible to have Google Maps work offline. By telling it your destination, you can have it download the route and work in much the same way a traditional satnav would work.
Of course, you will not get any of the live information that Google Maps provides, such as traffic updates. You will also not be able to stray too far from the initial route that Google has set out, as the app will only download map data for the areas it expects you to travel through.
Can You Use Android Auto Without Data?
Though much of the functionality in Android Auto relies on a data connection to work, there are certainly some useful features that work whether you are online or not.
One of the most obvious of these is the phone itself. Android auto provides you with big, easy to read controls and information about incoming calls that will cause minimal distractions when driving.
You can also make use of offline maps and music apps, as mentioned above, or you can put music onto your phone and play it that way.
Do You Need WiFi for Android Auto?
You do not need WiFi to use Android Auto, although it can be handy to make use of WiFi before setting off on a long trip. As mentioned above, it is possible to download certain data-heavy things ahead of time, so spending a little time with your WiFi connection before hitting the road could save you some data usage in the long run.
It’s also worth noting that any WiFi connection your phone would be able to receive while on the road would have to get there through a standard data connection, so it would be pointless converting that connection to WiFi when you can just receive the cell data connection directly.
By default, Android Auto does use data, but it doesn’t have to if you don’t need all of the additional functionality that the data usage brings. And even if you do need that extra functionality, you can mitigate the data used by downloading maps and songs before you set off.
With all that being said, it is worth noting that even with relatively heavy data usage-driving fast with Google Maps and playing music the whole time you would need to drive for an entire month solid (no stopping for sleep or food) to use up a full 5GB per month data allowance with just Android Auto usage.
My name is Mark, I am a new chief editor of this blog, freelance writer, entrepreneur, and simply a technology lover. Currently a proud owner of a Google Pixel 4a.