[Update: Google working on wider compatibility] Wireless Android Auto will require Android P if you don’t have a Pixel
Back in early April, wireless Android Auto was finally launched. The feature launched with version 3.1 of the Android Auto app but it was only for Google’s Pixel and Nexus devices. At the time, Google said they were “actively working with phone manufacturers on adding software compatibility” for non-Google devices. Now we have more information about compatibility with other devices: It’ll require Android P support.
The good news is that we’ve learned wireless Android Auto will be available for more devices. The bad news is, of course, you’ll need Android P on your phone. This new information interestingly not from Google but from a press release from Kenwood, a maker of aftermarket head units. They mention the feature is currently available for all four Pixel devices and the Nexus 6P and 5X. However, Kenwood then says “for other device manufacturers, wireless Android Auto will be implemented with the adoption of Android OS 9.0 or higher.”
In a couple of years, when more devices are launching with Android P, this won’t be a big deal. But right now it’s a huge bummer for anyone using a phone on Android Nougat or Android Oreo. Some of those devices won’t see Android P for a long time or never at all. Wireless Android Auto is by far the best way to use the platform. Hopefully, everyone can eventually use the feature.
UPDATE: Kenwood added the following statement to their original press release (from May 9th).
In our press release below, we indicated that future smartphones would require Android 9.0 OS to be compatible with KENWOOD multimedia receivers that feature Wireless Android Auto™. Google has informed us that, in addition to 9.0 devices, the company is working with several smartphone manufacturers to bring wireless compatibility to devices with Android 8.0 OS. According to Google, this compatibility will be available on select non-Google smartphones soon.