Owners of older cars can buy an aftermarket system to support Android Auto or Apple Carplay in their vehicles for an improved infotainment experience.
These two features enable users to link their smartphones to their car’s infotainment system to run navigation, messaging, music playback, calling, or other apps on a large touchscreen in their dashboard.
Among the most useful apps that support Android Auto and Apple Carplay are Google Maps, Spotify, YouTube Music, and WhatsApp.
Android Auto and Apple Carplay not only enhance the infotainment experience but also help reduce the need to use your phone while you drive, improving safety.
Nearly all new cars in South Africa — including the cheapest Suzuki S-Presso model — are sold with the feature as standard.
Although Apple Carplay was first introduced in overseas markets in 2014 and gradually made its way to South Africa over the next few years, Android Auto only debuted locally in early 2019.
According to Lightstone Auto, around 42% of the cars on South African roads in late 2022 were between 11 and 20 years old, while about 30% were between 6 and 10 years old.
That means most cars in the country probably do not support built-in Android Auto or Apple Carplay.
Fortunately, you don’t have to buy a new car to get the features — not that Android Auto or Apple Carplay alone would be a good enough reason to buy a car.
Instead, you can buy an aftermarket screen or kit capable of connecting to your smartphone wirelessly or through a wired connection with support for the features.
There are essentially two ways to retrofit your old car with Android Auto or Apple Carplay.
The first is to mount a touch screen that supports the features to your dashboard or windscreen.
For power, the screen is connected to your car’s 12V DC connector or USB cable, while audio playback works through an auxiliary cable, Bluetooth connection, or FM transmitter.
However, for an optimal experience, it is best to fully replace your existing infotainment system with a kit made by well-known brands like JVC, Kenwood, Pioneer, and Sony.
This will require much more technical expertise and might necessitate a visit to a workshop to avoid causing damage to your beloved set of wheels.
There are plenty of tutorials online for those more tech-savvy car owners willing to try it. Just bear in mind that it might involve significant disassembly and wire soldering.
One recent example is the team at Linus Tech Tips retrofitting a 2004 Honda Civic with Android Auto.
In addition to making for a more integrated “built-in” feel, you might also get a reverse camera as part of the deal.
Before choosing the kit you wish to use, ensure that it will fit into the slot from which you will remove your old system.
OneNav offers a website with a wide selection of customised units for specific car models from major manufacturers — including Ford, Hyundai, Isuzu, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Toyota, and Suzuki.
You will also need to decide whether you want your phone to connect wirelessly or through a wired connection.
While the former is more convenient, it can come with disconnection issues on some aftermarket units.
Below are 10 of the best Android Auto/Apple Carplay kits available for your car or motorcycle in South Africa.