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CarPlay & Android Auto Hack - Walkthrough

PorthosJon

Member
May 5, 2021
106
95
Westchester, NY
I picked up my MY this week and am now debating whether I need CarPlay or not. However, I have put together the perfect "hack," although I am just waiting for the mount pieces to arrive to make it a more seamless mount. But here's the basics of how I made it along with Amazon links to the parts I used (NOTE: I am NOT using affiliate links, I make no money no matter where you buy stuff from), the links are at the end.

Basically all you need is an android tablet (yes Android for Apple CarPlay, I know, I know) and some attachments/cables and a mount.

So I got my hands on a cheap Amazon Fire HD 8 refurb, although you can use any tablet you want, and even some Android phones - as long as they have a newer version of Android and use USB-C [because of Power Delivery]. YMMV on other models of tablets/phones, I've only tested a couple and the Fire was the cheapest option.

Then I got my hands on an adapter that has USB 3.0, HDMI & Power Delivery (I couldn't find one without the HDMI). Also needed a USB-C Power Cable and a USB-C extension cable with a right angle adapter on one end.

Besides a mount, the last piece needed is the Carlinkit adapter for Android Head Units (it does wireless & wired CarPlay, but only wired Android Auto)

The steps are pretty simple:
  1. Install the AutoKit APK on your tablet/phone that will act as your CarPlay "Screen" (the url for this can be found in the CarLinkit accessory "manual")
  2. Bluetooth Pair your tablet/phone with your Tesla (do NOT make it a Car Key).
  3. Attach your chosen mount to your car (I'm using a suction cup to the windshield right now, but I've ordered a non-destructive console mount that fits the M3 to see if it will work)
  4. Mount the Tablet/Phone and Attach the USB-C right angle extension cable to the tablet/phone charge port.
  5. Route the cable any way you can to the MY console where your USB-C ports are.
  6. Plug the USB multi-way splitter/adapter into the extension cord.
  7. Plug the power cable from a MY USB-C port into the Power Delivery port of the splitter/adapter.
  8. Plug the Carlinkit adapter into the USB-A port of the splitter/adapter.
  9. Run the AutoKit app on the tablet and set options as you like and pair your iPhone to it via BlueTooth (once paired it automagically switches to using a WiFi connection).
Note: Make sure that you do not have your phone paired for media to your car, that it is connecting to the CarPlay Head Unit.

All of this took me a while to collect from other posts and ideas and seems to be working ok. Not happy with the kludge, but until Elon decides to give us at least a couple of apps for Media that I find indispensable (like Audible, Apple Music, and I like seeing Speedtrap notifications from Waze/Apple Maps), I'll use this rig on longer trips.

Here's links to what I purchased (it was a many times trial and error to find the splitter/adapter that would allow Power & USB at the same time):
I'm in the process of ordering/trying out mounts from ProClip. I'm also considering maybe either making or finding a "below the screen" mount for a large Android phone or small tablet in landscape to keep the same idea.

My last consideration might be to actually ditch the whole CarPlay idea and create a Home Screen of shortcuts and widgets for "driving" and find a way to mount the phone in landscape under the screen using MagSafe.


Anyway wanted to share my solution, and I'd be really interested in hearing what other people are doing to keep this going for them.
 

ScoobyDoo82

Member
Mar 22, 2021
285
224
Los Angeles (818)
I picked up my MY this week and am now debating whether I need CarPlay or not. However, I have put together the perfect "hack," although I am just waiting for the mount pieces to arrive to make it a more seamless mount. But here's the basics of how I made it along with Amazon links to the parts I used (NOTE: I am NOT using affiliate links, I make no money no matter where you buy stuff from), the links are at the end.

Basically all you need is an android tablet (yes Android for Apple CarPlay, I know, I know) and some attachments/cables and a mount.

So I got my hands on a cheap Amazon Fire HD 8 refurb, although you can use any tablet you want, and even some Android phones - as long as they have a newer version of Android and use USB-C [because of Power Delivery]. YMMV on other models of tablets/phones, I've only tested a couple and the Fire was the cheapest option.

Then I got my hands on an adapter that has USB 3.0, HDMI & Power Delivery (I couldn't find one without the HDMI). Also needed a USB-C Power Cable and a USB-C extension cable with a right angle adapter on one end.

Besides a mount, the last piece needed is the Carlinkit adapter for Android Head Units (it does wireless & wired CarPlay, but only wired Android Auto)

The steps are pretty simple:
  1. Install the AutoKit APK on your tablet/phone that will act as your CarPlay "Screen" (the url for this can be found in the CarLinkit accessory "manual")
  2. Bluetooth Pair your tablet/phone with your Tesla (do NOT make it a Car Key).
  3. Attach your chosen mount to your car (I'm using a suction cup to the windshield right now, but I've ordered a non-destructive console mount that fits the M3 to see if it will work)
  4. Mount the Tablet/Phone and Attach the USB-C right angle extension cable to the tablet/phone charge port.
  5. Route the cable any way you can to the MY console where your USB-C ports are.
  6. Plug the USB multi-way splitter/adapter into the extension cord.
  7. Plug the power cable from a MY USB-C port into the Power Delivery port of the splitter/adapter.
  8. Plug the Carlinkit adapter into the USB-A port of the splitter/adapter.
  9. Run the AutoKit app on the tablet and set options as you like and pair your iPhone to it via BlueTooth (once paired it automagically switches to using a WiFi connection).
Note: Make sure that you do not have your phone paired for media to your car, that it is connecting to the CarPlay Head Unit.

All of this took me a while to collect from other posts and ideas and seems to be working ok. Not happy with the kludge, but until Elon decides to give us at least a couple of apps for Media that I find indispensable (like Audible, Apple Music, and I like seeing Speedtrap notifications from Waze/Apple Maps), I'll use this rig on longer trips.

Here's links to what I purchased (it was a many times trial and error to find the splitter/adapter that would allow Power & USB at the same time):
I'm in the process of ordering/trying out mounts from ProClip. I'm also considering maybe either making or finding a "below the screen" mount for a large Android phone or small tablet in landscape to keep the same idea.

My last consideration might be to actually ditch the whole CarPlay idea and create a Home Screen of shortcuts and widgets for "driving" and find a way to mount the phone in landscape under the screen using MagSafe.


Anyway wanted to share my solution, and I'd be really interested in hearing what other people are doing to keep this going for them.
You could have just used TeslaMirror.
 

PorthosJon

Member
May 5, 2021
106
95
Westchester, NY
You could have just used TeslaMirror.
Nope.

TeslaMirror is great if you want to illegally (at least in NY) keep stabbing at your handheld phone (not only illegal, but a TERRIBLE idea) to do anything. A screen mirror is just that, it doesn't transmit touch events, it doesn't make the phone present information in the unique CarPlay screen configuration.
 

timeshifter

Member
Jan 23, 2021
140
127
USA
@PorthosJon be careful with AutoKit. I don't know if it's still the case, but at least some versions of it have been infected with a trojan.
This is true. You need to be careful about the sourcing.
I can't totally clear the app, but I can mention a few things I've learned because I was concerned about this too. First, a lot of the flags it gets are due to some kind of protection they've put on their app. Apparently (and not surprisingly) a lot of other Chinese vendors have ripped off the design of the Carlinkit and simply used the original's software. I've hear that this is to prevent that. Second, I've only downloaded the app through links that I got through Amazon where I bought my unit. Also, I scanned the .apk by uploading it to virustotal.com. Out of about 60 scanners they have the app is flagged about 9 times, but most of those are non-specific or related to the protection tool they use.
 
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timeshifter

Member
Jan 23, 2021
140
127
USA
Anyway wanted to share my solution, and I'd be really interested in hearing what other people are doing to keep this going for them.
Thanks for sharing your solution. I too have been working through a solution.

First, without going too deep, the Tesla infotainment system pales in comparison to a good CarPlay implementation. I'll leave it at that. Search for my other posts if you're interested, don't want to repeat all that here. I will note that driving an ID.4 yesterday brought that point home for me. Having CarPlay on a big main screen felt so comfortable and natural.

I'm really close to having a near perfect solution I think. I've been through two tablets and one phone so far. The challenges are power, software and mounting. My solution is very similar to yours - an Android tablet, the Carlinkit dongle and a phone or tablet.

I've yet to find a consensus on what power solution is best. My first attempt was a cheap cable from Amazon with the Lenovo tablet as was recommended by a guy on Reddit, it's what he's using. To get it to charge and power the dongle at the same time you have to plug it all up with the tablet completely powered down. If you unplug it after its up and running then it will no longer charge.

Next I picked up a similar Lenovo tablet that came with a charging dock. Aha I thought - this will charge and play at the same time. Nope.

Along the way I'd heard about an adapter from LAVA technologies. A Canadian company that makes a lot of adapters for many markets where solution builders do what we're trying to do on a bigger scale. Like make kiosks and other commercial systems that combine Android tablets with other hardware.
I've got one of their adapters on its way to me. It will charge the tablet and provide power to the dongle at the same time. In fact, the power goes from the car to the adapter to the dongle. Don't know if other solutions work this way. But, what made me spend the extra for this was their docking detection feature. Essentially, it disconnects the dongle when power from the car is disconnected.

I've heard from people who use the Carlinkit in the way we're talking about sometimes need to unplug the dongle and plug it back in. I'm thinking this will help mitigate that problem. I'm hoping this will be one of the keys to making this an elegant solution that just works. Because if I have to fiddle with crap every time I get in the car the convenience of this solution will be lost.

micro USB vs USB-C - both common connections on current tablets and phones. LAVA makes adapters for both. The Lenovo tablets are micro-USB. My gut was telling me that I should make this solution USB-C. The guys at LAVA confirmed this. While I knew that USB-C was the newer standard and the direction for the future he also pointed out that the connection is more mechanically sound. This is totally accurate. I quickly noticed how wobbly the micro USB devices connections were on my Lenovo and a Kindle. Then I bought a Samsung phone with USB-C. Solid connection.

But the Samsung phone I bought, a Galaxy A12, while cheap and had a big screen, it didn't support the simultaneous charge and powering an external device. I've ordered a Samsung Galaxy A20 which is supported by LAVA. Not all phones and tablets can do both.
 

timeshifter

Member
Jan 23, 2021
140
127
USA
Audio Channel is the key

I'm most excited about this feature. Essentially the CarPlay device (Android tablet and Carlinkit) just become an external display for your phone. Otherwise the phone is connected to the Tesla just like its been all along. Calls come through the car's speakers and use its mic. Other audio goes through the phone connection (you select phone from the Music menu on the Tesla).

The way you're doing it (and the way I was doing it) and the way other solutions do it is to route the audio through the CarPlay device then to the car. That method is represented by the dots in this diagram:

audiochanneldiagram.png


The Audio Channel connection is represented by the waves along the left.

This is not the default behavior. When I was first experimenting I would keep switching the Airplay audio from CarPlay to the car. This can be made default with an advanced setting in the autokit.apk called Audio Channel, you set it to Bluetooth.

audiochannel.png
 

timeshifter

Member
Jan 23, 2021
140
127
USA
Again, micro-USB is icky. Notice how the cable going in to the tablet above isn't square and secure. That's a brand new tablet. micro-USB just isn't the best, whereas USB-C is solid by comparison.

A couple of bumps in the road I hit.

The Samsung Galaxy A12 phone sounded like a great idea. Big 6.5" screen, easy to mount, big enough maybe. Only $179 brand new unlocked. Android 10. Popular phone that should have cases and mounts if needed. But...

It's not worth a sh!t in landscape mode if you're wearing sunglasses.
polarized.png


Second, the current and previous versions of the autokit.apk won't run on it. I had to get a 2020 version to run. And that doesn't have the awesome Audio Channel option.

I'm hoping that the A20 which came originally with Android 9 doesn't have this issue. We'll see.
 

PorthosJon

Member
May 5, 2021
106
95
Westchester, NY
Thanks for sharing your solution. I too have been working through a solution.

First, without going too deep, the Tesla infotainment system pales in comparison to a good CarPlay implementation. I'll leave it at that. Search for my other posts if you're interested, don't want to repeat all that here. I will note that driving an ID.4 yesterday brought that point home for me. Having CarPlay on a big main screen felt so comfortable and natural.

I'm really close to having a near perfect solution I think. I've been through two tablets and one phone so far. The challenges are power, software and mounting. My solution is very similar to yours - an Android tablet, the Carlinkit dongle and a phone or tablet.

I've yet to find a consensus on what power solution is best. My first attempt was a cheap cable from Amazon with the Lenovo tablet as was recommended by a guy on Reddit, it's what he's using. To get it to charge and power the dongle at the same time you have to plug it all up with the tablet completely powered down. If you unplug it after its up and running then it will no longer charge.

Next I picked up a similar Lenovo tablet that came with a charging dock. Aha I thought - this will charge and play at the same time. Nope.

Along the way I'd heard about an adapter from LAVA technologies. A Canadian company that makes a lot of adapters for many markets where solution builders do what we're trying to do on a bigger scale. Like make kiosks and other commercial systems that combine Android tablets with other hardware.
I've got one of their adapters on its way to me. It will charge the tablet and provide power to the dongle at the same time. In fact, the power goes from the car to the adapter to the dongle. Don't know if other solutions work this way. But, what made me spend the extra for this was their docking detection feature. Essentially, it disconnects the dongle when power from the car is disconnected.

I've heard from people who use the Carlinkit in the way we're talking about sometimes need to unplug the dongle and plug it back in. I'm thinking this will help mitigate that problem. I'm hoping this will be one of the keys to making this an elegant solution that just works. Because if I have to fiddle with crap every time I get in the car the convenience of this solution will be lost.

micro USB vs USB-C - both common connections on current tablets and phones. LAVA makes adapters for both. The Lenovo tablets are micro-USB. My gut was telling me that I should make this solution USB-C. The guys at LAVA confirmed this. While I knew that USB-C was the newer standard and the direction for the future he also pointed out that the connection is more mechanically sound. This is totally accurate. I quickly noticed how wobbly the micro USB devices connections were on my Lenovo and a Kindle. Then I bought a Samsung phone with USB-C. Solid connection.

But the Samsung phone I bought, a Galaxy A12, while cheap and had a big screen, it didn't support the simultaneous charge and powering an external device. I've ordered a Samsung Galaxy A20 which is supported by LAVA. Not all phones and tablets can do both.
I agree with all the challenges that you supplied. That is why my solution specified a tablet/phone that has USB-C. Using that standard adapter that is in my parts list, it will power and USB at the same time. Because in order to support USB-C, it has to support the PD Spec (Power Delivery) which is a combined power/data spec.

I did find that my friend's Samsung Galaxy DID work, but it was simple math of $85 (or less depending on the refurb deal) for a Fire Tablet and over $500 for a nice Samsung phone that uses USB-C.

This also has the benefit (if you like Alexa- Which I do not) to use Alexa in the car.
 
Last edited:
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PorthosJon

Member
May 5, 2021
106
95
Westchester, NY
The Samsung Galaxy A12 phone sounded like a great idea. Big 6.5" screen, easy to mount, big enough maybe. Only $179 brand new unlocked. Android 10. Popular phone that should have cases and mounts if needed. But...

It's not worth a sh!t in landscape mode if you're wearing sunglasses.
Aha, I use the Ray Ban G-15 sunglasses lens, which is not polarized. That's usually the issue with that kind of greying. I had the same problem with polarized sunglasses and my Volvo with a HUD, couldn't see it unless I tilted my head
Second, the current and previous versions of the autokit.apk won't run on it. I had to get a 2020 version to run. And that doesn't have the awesome Audio Channel option.

I'm hoping that the A20 which came originally with Android 9 doesn't have this issue. We'll see.
Easiest solution to that is to root the phone and install the preferred version of vanilla Android on it. Also makes sure you don't end up with Bloatware.
 

timeshifter

Member
Jan 23, 2021
140
127
USA
over $500 for a nice Samsung phone that uses USB-C
I learned way more than I ever wanted to about all the Samsung phones in this process :D. I think the phone I ordered will work and I got a new one for $179.99. It's a Samsung A20. Used / refurbished can be had for around $100 as I recall.
Samsung Galaxy A20 4G LTE 32GB Smartphone Factory Unlocked T-Mobile AT&T GSM | eBay is the one I got. (sorry to those clicking this link beyond June 2021, eBay links don't last)

I'm still not sure whether I'll ultimately prefer a tablet or a phone.

How and where its mounted will come into play. I could mount the phone or tablet under the main screen, behind the steering wheel, or what would be really awesome if there were a way to do it ... OVER the Tesla screen

 

PorthosJon

Member
May 5, 2021
106
95
Westchester, NY
Audio Channel is the key

I'm most excited about this feature. Essentially the CarPlay device (Android tablet and Carlinkit) just become an external display for your phone. Otherwise the phone is connected to the Tesla just like its been all along. Calls come through the car's speakers and use its mic. Other audio goes through the phone connection (you select phone from the Music menu on the Tesla).

The way you're doing it (and the way I was doing it) and the way other solutions do it is to route the audio through the CarPlay device then to the car. That method is represented by the dots in this diagram:

The Audio Channel connection is represented by the waves along the left.

This is not the default behavior. When I was first experimenting I would keep switching the Airplay audio from CarPlay to the car. This can be made default with an advanced setting in the autokit.apk called Audio Channel, you set it to Bluetooth.
This is really interesting... My only question with this is if there is a difference in time-to-pair with both the wifi for the CarPlay and then the bluetooth direct for the audio. Also, does that change the controllability from the wheel for the audio stop/start?
 

timeshifter

Member
Jan 23, 2021
140
127
USA
Because in order to support USB-C, it has to support the PD Spec (Power Delivery) which is a combined power/data spec.
My understanding is that having USB-C doesn't mean it will support PD Spec. The guy at LAVA said a lot of newer Samsung devices don't. i.e. the A20 does but the newer A21 does not. I presume that Kindle HD 8 does?
 

timeshifter

Member
Jan 23, 2021
140
127
USA
My only question with this is if there is a difference in time-to-pair with both the wifi for the CarPlay and then the bluetooth direct for the audio.
Not sure, as I've never run it the way you're doing it. I can say that from the time I get in the car to the time the iPhone connects to the CarPlay device isn't bad.
Also, does that change the controllability from the wheel for the audio stop/start?
My steering wheel buttons seem to work just fine. I guess that's because they're still talking to the phone directly through the Bluetooth link, just like they were if you only had your iPhone and nothing else going on.
 

PorthosJon

Member
May 5, 2021
106
95
Westchester, NY
My understanding is that having USB-C doesn't mean it will support PD Spec. The guy at LAVA said a lot of newer Samsung devices don't. i.e. the A20 does but the newer A21 does not. I presume that Kindle HD 8 does?
The Fire HD 8, 8Plus, and 10 all support PD with USB. Usually the key is to look for quick charge support. That usually means it can vary its charge based on the input, which is the PD spec.

And the LAVA cables are really expensive. You can get the adapter I showed for $20-$30 bucks at Best Buy (alternate to the Apple native one)
 
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timeshifter

Member
Jan 23, 2021
140
127
USA
And the LAVA cables are really expensive. You can get the adapter I showed for $20-$30 bucks at Best Buy (alternate to the Apple native one)
Yes, they are expensive. Not just expensive to buy ($65 vs $20-$30, but shipping for one is about $25 to the US from their office in Canada). I was going to run by Best Buy today and get one like yours but they don't have them in stock. Maybe they have something else that will work, or something I can try and take back. If I can make it work I'd rather have that as a solution rather than the LAVA solution - $20 vs $117.
 

PorthosJon

Member
May 5, 2021
106
95
Westchester, NY
Yes, they are expensive. Not just expensive to buy ($65 vs $20-$30, but shipping for one is about $25 to the US from their office in Canada). I was going to run by Best Buy today and get one like yours but they don't have them in stock. Maybe they have something else that will work, or something I can try and take back. If I can make it work I'd rather have that as a solution rather than the LAVA solution - $20 vs $117.
I bought that one at BestBuy, but there were other options there. There's also a VGA model (who cares you aren't actually using that port). If you can find an open box on the Apple media one that one works too (although usually more at around $70). There's a BB house brand of Insignia (SKU #5577934) that you can look for as well as the J5 or Apple.

You just need that USB extension cable, or else you have a huge ugly adapter hanging off, and the attendant stress on the port as well.
 

timeshifter

Member
Jan 23, 2021
140
127
USA
We have a Kindle 10 HD 2021 edition that we just got for my wife. I had tried to run the autokit.apk and Carlinkit dongle on it unsuccessfully. It would launch and the screen would go black. I messed around with the settings for the display. I think I got it to wokr once but the resolution was all messed up. I think the taskbar for CarPlay ended up on the bottom or something. It wasn't pretty. I didn't pursue it any further. I think I had installed the current download of autokit.apk version 2021.01.08.1651

Do you know what version you're running? What Kindle OS version are you on?
 

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