How to make your Apple CarPlay or Android Auto wireless

A smart wireless upgrade lets your Apple or Android smartphone ride shotgun without needing to plug in a USB cable when you get behind the wheel.

Support for Apple CarPlay and Android Auto is commonplace in new cars, letting you connect your smartphone to your car and control everything from the big screen in the dash.

You'll also find plenty of aftermarket head units that let you retrofit Android Auto and Apple CarPlay to your ride.

That said, not all cars offer the convenience of a wireless connection. Instead, you need to plug your smartphone into a USB port to take advantage of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto while you're driving.

One reason why wireless features might be missing from your car is that a simple Bluetooth connection can't handle the demands of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

While Bluetooth is fine for making calls and streaming music, it demands the extra bandwidth of in-vehicle Wi-Fi. Thankfully, there are a few tricks for adding wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay support to your car.

Keep in mind, though, one of the benefits of a wired connection is that it charges the phone – which can be important on a long drive – but it's still great to have the option of wireless for short trips.

Check for a software update

Before you start looking at spending money, it's worth checking whether the maker of your car or headset has released an update that adds support for wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

Car makers have become quite generous in the last few years when it comes to releasing updates that add Android Auto and Apple CarPlay to older cars.

Some are also adding wireless features to cars that currently only support wired connections. If your car has built-in Wi-Fi but only runs Android Auto or Apple CarPlay via USB, you might be in luck.

Several car manufacturers, most notably BMW, have granted wireless Android Auto functionality to older vehicles via over-the-air updates.

Upgrade your hardware

Another option for adding wireless support to your car is upgrading your head unit to a model that supports wireless Android Auto and/or Apple CarPlay. Of course that won't be cheap, especially if you need to pay for installation.

An easier and more affordable option is to add an Android Auto and/or Apple CarPlay wireless adapter to your car. You plug the wireless adapter into your car's USB port and then connect your smartphone wirelessly to the adapter. Keep in mind that these wireless adapters only work if your car already supports wired Apple CarPlay and/or Android Auto.

There are a few Apple CarPlay/Android Auto wireless adapters to choose from, so it's worth doing your research. Options include the Cplay2Air, OttoCast U2-X, Magic Link and Carlinkit U2W Plus.

If you're feeling brave, there are also hacks designed to add wireless support to Android Auto using an Android TV stick as a Wi-Fi antenna, but we'd advise you to proceed with caution.

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