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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
I wanted to share with everyone how I put an Android Auto phone in the Volt.

My main inspiration for this project was that you can't use Google Maps with Apple Carplay. I find that the lane warnings, traffic adjustments, and general route quality are much better with Google. The cheapest idea that I found is that I just found a used Nexus 6 on ebay with screen burn-in/scratches, etc. As long as the screen is not cracked, it would work for me since I was just going to store this phone somewhere in the car and never use its screen. As a bonus, I disabled CarPlay on my iPhone (Settings -> Restrictions -> Restrict CarPlay), but this doesn't disable the legacy "iPod" interface. This lets me use YouTube Music or ANY audio app on my iphone simultaneously with Navigation from Android Auto. Quite a bonus seeing as there's such a limited number of apps for AA/CP. The only feature I really lose is the ability for SIRI to read my text messages with notification on the Car's Screen.

At first I wasn't sure where I would put the phone, maybe tucked up in the bay where there are USB ports, or just a cable that I manually put. There's no wireless carplay, so keeping the phone in the wireless charger isn't an option (and the Nexus 6 doesn't fit!). I then found that there is a small seamline running from the glove box to the USB bay. I ordered a black, flat, usb cable and routed it like this:

Amazon link to the flat USB cable: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B019OZTU6Q







To make this cleaner near the USB bay, I used some 3M command strips (outdoor rated), couldn't find these in clear though, to stick to the back of one of the support bars. I cut it in 1/3 and 2/3 pieces and supported the cable on either side of the area where I tucked the USB cable into the panels.







The next step is that I decided I wanted to get the cable cleanly into the glove box and still be low profile. I used another command strip cut in half and made two supports on the upper side of the glove box.







The last issue was that I didn't want the phone to bounce around or make noise, so I used the 3m command "velcro" hanging strips. These are unfortunately indoor rated, so we'll see if they hold. I wanted the phone to be removable. This is in the glove box, so we'll see if it gets hot enough to de-stick. I cleaned the surfaces (esp the phone) throughly and the phone doesn't weigh much so I'm hopeful. If the phone is reliable and the indoor strips are not, I may just use an outdoor strip to stick the phone.





Finally, here's what everything looks like completed!









A few more technical details. I use a bit of advanced Android features to make things work well. The phone is unlocked and rooted. This let's me use the Android tool "fastboot" to force the phone to turn on if it's off for whatever reason and power is applied. I also use "Tasker" to turn the phone into Airplane Mode with Power Save mode when the power is disconnected, and to turn on the Radios and turn off Power Save mode when the power is connected. It looks like I have weeks of standby power with this setup. The phone also has its screen off almost all the time and the Volt seems to charge the phone very fast, so no issues with power.

It seems like the Volt almost never turns off the USB port power too. :) . The phone seems to be constantly at 100% even after hours in the parking lot or charging. Combined with the power saving, I've never worried about battery.

Another thing to note is that I have the built-in navigation package. I think this is important as it allows the phone to use the car's GPS antenna instead of its own, which I've tucked away out of the GPS signals.

If anyone has any questions, I'd be glad to answer. Does anyone have any ideas of how to improve this or make it cooler?
 

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I'm just gonna ask the annoying question here:

Why don't you just switch to an Android phone?
 

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I wanted to share with everyone how I put an Android Auto phone in the Volt.
Very interesting and well documented mod, thanks for posting!

Another thing to note is that I have the built-in navigation package. I think this is important as it allows the phone to use the car's GPS antenna instead of its own, which I've tucked away out of the GPS signals.
Are you saying that one of the capabilities of Android Auto is that it can use an external GPS? And that the car is smart enough to provide the data to the phone?
 

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Hm, interesting idea. I love the idea of Android Auto coming on whenever I start the car, without having to futz with plugging in the phone. If all I needed were Google maps, I'd do something like what the OP describes. I'd keep an old phone always plugged in, and have it connect to my phone's hotspot rather than over its own cellular data.

HOWEVER, I really like Android Auto's text and phone functions, so unless there is software that would somehow transfer these from one phone to the other via wifi, I guess I can't set this up.
 

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That is pretty neat, chadrockey. I'm going to have to steal that flat-cable routing idea in the future. Wasn't aware there was enough space under the gray trim for a cable.
 

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I doubt the android phone and the car's GPS antennas are working together, but if it did, that would be awesome. Long ago, I had a Sprint wifi hotspot from work, and my iPad which didn't have GPS would indeed magically use the sprint wifi hotspot for GPS locations while using Google Maps through a browser on the iPad. Now I just use Apple maps on my iPhone (I have a gen1 with built-in nav that I never use).
 

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When connecting to AA doesn't it use that phone's bluetooth? If so, how do you answer your phone calls on your iPhone? Do you have data on the Nexus for traffic info.

Sent from my Moto G (4) using Tapatalk
 

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Discussion Starter #8
I'm just gonna ask the annoying question here:

Why don't you just switch to an Android phone?
Maybe I will. :p . But realistically, I gave up on Android when I dropped my Nexus 5 and there weren't any good phones to buy. The Nexus 6, 5x, and 6p were drastically overpriced for their hardware and performance. I eventually gave in to iPhone to have iMessage with my wife/Macbook.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Very interesting and well documented mod, thanks for posting!


Are you saying that one of the capabilities of Android Auto is that it can use an external GPS? And that the car is smart enough to provide the data to the phone?
I doubt the android phone and the car's GPS antennas are working together, but if it did, that would be awesome. Long ago, I had a Sprint wifi hotspot from work, and my iPad which didn't have GPS would indeed magically use the sprint wifi hotspot for GPS locations while using Google Maps through a browser on the iPad. Now I just use Apple maps on my iPhone (I have a gen1 with built-in nav that I never use).
Android Auto absolutely has the capability to use the car's GPS. For the Volt, you have to have the $500 Navigation Upgrade (that enables GPS antenna on the roof, the built-in nav software (yuck), and the Home charging 12A location feature).

Anecdotally, I rented a Volt LT without Nav from Turo before picking up my Premier. The GPS for CarPlay on that Volt would bounce all over the road and think I took a particular exit every day that I did not. I haven't seen any of that on the Premier.

This table shows the capabilities from the car provided to the phone:
http://android.wikia.com/wiki/Android_Auto#Car_Hardware_Support

This shows that there can be CAN bus issues with cars that the Android device "trusts" the GPS more and requires the car to be updated to fix:
https://productforums.google.com/forum/#!topic/android-auto/9x29DwHVlW8

And finally, Android uses a unified "Location Services" through Google Play Services API now for its GPS. It automatically provides apps with the best location. Unfortunately, this obscures a lot of the API and makes it difficult to show that the car GPS is used.

My best evidence are these screenshots, with Android Auto active, you DO NOT see the "GPS - someone is spying on you" icon in the taskbar. When you unplug AndroidAuto and use Google Maps, you DO see the icon. Another anecdote is that the phone feels A LOT less hot while navigating in this setup vs traditional all-in-the-phone GPS.

No notification about location with Android Auto:


Notification without Android Auto:


If someone without the Nav package could try Android Auto and see if the Little "Maps" Icon shows up, that would also help confirm that Chevrolet did enable this feature.
 

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Discussion Starter #11 (Edited)
Hm, interesting idea. I love the idea of Android Auto coming on whenever I start the car, without having to futz with plugging in the phone. If all I needed were Google maps, I'd do something like what the OP describes. I'd keep an old phone always plugged in, and have it connect to my phone's hotspot rather than over its own cellular data.

HOWEVER, I really like Android Auto's text and phone functions, so unless there is software that would somehow transfer these from one phone to the other via wifi, I guess I can't set this up.
When connecting to AA doesn't it use that phone's bluetooth? If so, how do you answer your phone calls on your iPhone? Do you have data on the Nexus for traffic info.

Sent from my Moto G (4) using Tapatalk
Yes, the last piece of the puzzle is what to do about calls and texts. I do have a phone number on the Android device, it's not terribly expensive because carriers allow you to add lines for cheap on the current unlimited plans. You get unlimited everything and 10GB tethering.

Android Auto does currently use Bluetooth, but I'm thinking about seeing if I can instead connect the iPhone with Bluetooth. Full disclosure, I have never taken a phone call while driving and don't really plan to. I don't really like phone calls, so this isn't an issue for me. I could solve this through Google Voice by forwarding calls to the "CarPhone" as well and the caller wouldn't know. I do use Google voice so I could also forward texts to CarPhone and iPhone as well. You can also place new calls and text with Android through Google Voice's number as well.

[Edit, to disable Bluetooth, you'd have to enable Android Auto's specific Development Options. It may be possible with root and Tasker as well: When Android Auto launches -> Disable Bluetooth]

The real issue for me is that my wife and I use iMessage, and iMessage is neither forward-able, copyable, or Android Compatible.

To be perfectly honest, if Apple allowed Google Maps on CarPlay, I wouldn't have done this. All my issues would be fixed if iMessage were on Android or Google Maps on CarPlay. We live in an imperfect world, but for now I have automatic AndroidAuto without needing to dock a phone for short trips, so I'm pretty happy.
 

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Android Auto absolutely has the capability to use the car's GPS.
Very interesting I was unaware of this. Thanks for the links.

For the Volt, you have to have the $500 Navigation Upgrade (that enables GPS antenna on the roof, the built-in nav software (yuck), and the Home charging 12A location feature).
I thought the 12A home location was standard on all Volt models and that implied that they were all equipped with GPS, which if true would call in to question the requirement that you need the navigation upgrade. Am I wrong about the availability of the 12A "home charging" feature?
 

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Very interesting I was unaware of this. Thanks for the links.


I thought the 12A home location was standard on all Volt models and that implied that they were all equipped with GPS, which if true would call in to question the requirement that you need the navigation upgrade. Am I wrong about the availability of the 12A "home charging" feature?
You don't need nag for gps. All onstar equipped vehicles have gps. That's how they kniw how to find you if the airbags deploy and you have a subscription.
 

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You don't need nag for gps. All onstar equipped vehicles have gps. That's how they kniw how to find you if the airbags deploy and you have a subscription.
Yeah, but the question is whether the GPS will actually pass information to Android Auto if you don't have the subscription. I thought the GPS was still active even without the subscription because it's required for location-based charging, which I believe is a standard feature not dependent on OnStar. But chadrockey seems to imply otherwise, or at least that OnStar is required for Android Auto GPS integration.
 

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Cool mod... back when I was thinking of trading in my gen1 for a gen2 I was thinking of doing something very similar. I do wonder if you'll run into heat issues, though? Would be interested in hearing back from you in August... most phones don't like getting too hot, many will refuse to turn on, and their batteries will cook and destroy capacity (not a big deal in your situation) and I would be worried about possibly causing a fire. I've toyed with the idea of building some sort of insulated chamber for a phone used like this, with peltier coolers, etc. just not sure if it's needed.

Also, FYI, I saw a recent post on the DIY subreddit where a guy did a permanent mount for an android in his fiat dash. I believe he just used his main phone as the hotspot so he didn't need the installed phone to have data access by itself (saves a few bucks per month). He did it over bluetooth, not wifi, as it links faster, supposedly. Not sure that would work here, but you may want to read what he did? He also separated the screen and battery to protect it from heat.
 

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I could solve this through Google Voice by forwarding calls to the "CarPhone" as well and the caller wouldn't know. I do use Google voice so I could also forward texts to CarPhone and iPhone as well. You can also place new calls and text with Android through Google Voice's number as well.
So, do you have to change some setting in your main phone before each trip to have it forward calls and texts to the car phone? And then remember to change it back at the end of the trip?

I guess with calls you could set up simultaneous ring on both phones, so your car phone would always get every call (it would just ignore them unless you answered using Android Auto). Can Google Voice do the same thing with texts (send each text to both phones simultaneously)?

If so, then the only problem is paying for the "car phone" line... which may seem inexpensive, but $10/month adds up.
 

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Android Auto absolutely has the capability to use the car's GPS. For the Volt, you have to have the $500 Navigation Upgrade (that enables GPS antenna on the roof, the built-in nav software (yuck), and the Home charging 12A location feature).

Anecdotally, I rented a Volt LT without Nav from Turo before picking up my Premier. The GPS for CarPlay on that Volt would bounce all over the road and think I took a particular exit every day that I did not. I haven't seen any of that on the Premier.

This table shows the capabilities from the car provided to the phone:
http://android.wikia.com/wiki/Android_Auto#Car_Hardware_Support

This shows that there can be CAN bus issues with cars that the Android device "trusts" the GPS more and requires the car to be updated to fix:
https://productforums.google.com/forum/#!topic/android-auto/9x29DwHVlW8

And finally, Android uses a unified "Location Services" through Google Play Services API now for its GPS. It automatically provides apps with the best location. Unfortunately, this obscures a lot of the API and makes it difficult to show that the car GPS is used.

My best evidence are these screenshots, with Android Auto active, you DO NOT see the "GPS - someone is spying on you" icon in the taskbar. When you unplug AndroidAuto and use Google Maps, you DO see the icon. Another anecdote is that the phone feels A LOT less hot while navigating in this setup vs traditional all-in-the-phone GPS.

No notification about location with Android Auto:


Notification without Android Auto:


If someone without the Nav package could try Android Auto and see if the Little "Maps" Icon shows up, that would also help confirm that Chevrolet did enable this feature.
Very interesting I was unaware of this. Thanks for the links.


I thought the 12A home location was standard on all Volt models and that implied that they were all equipped with GPS, which if true would call in to question the requirement that you need the navigation upgrade. Am I wrong about the availability of the 12A "home charging" feature?
You definitely don't need the nav upgrade to use location-based charging, because I don't have the nav upgrade, yet I use location-based charging on a daily basis.

My phone charges fairly fast when plugged into AA (which is impressive, as it's a Pixel XL that usually trickle charges on anything other than a USB-C turbo charger) which makes me think it doesn't use its own GPS module but instead uses the car's GPS.
 

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Neat stuff, I was thinking about doing the same with one of those Android TV sticks that I'd flash with a ROM that can use AA - Though this might be easier.

I should check out if T-Mobile does a SIM duplication service so I can receive the same calls on a dedicated AA device, that or wait for their one number program to release.
 

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Discussion Starter #20
You definitely don't need the nav upgrade to use location-based charging, because I don't have the nav upgrade, yet I use location-based charging on a daily basis.

My phone charges fairly fast when plugged into AA (which is impressive, as it's a Pixel XL that usually trickle charges on anything other than a USB-C turbo charger) which makes me think it doesn't use its own GPS module but instead uses the car's GPS.
Thanks for the update. What trim levels do you have if you don't mind me asking?

I had access to a 2017 Volt LT that had Leather Seats as an add-on Option (would have had cloth otherwise), Bose as an Option, Comfort Package as an option, and I could not access Location Based Charging or set a home location. I do believe that the OnStar add-ons had expired, is it possible they are connected?
 
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