Wireless Android Auto support is something rarely seen built into cars, but the rise of third-party dongles has made it much easier to bring this functionality to cars that don’t already have it. Tomorrow, a new wireless Android Auto dongle under the Motorola brand will officially launch, and – based on our brief first impressions – the Motorola MA1 seems like a great option.
The Motorola* MA1 is a simple USB dongle with one key purpose — to add wireless Android Auto support to any car that already supports the wired form. It’s a goal that AAWireless and other projects have accomplished but with some rough edges during setup due to the nature of “hacking in” this functionality.
The MA1 is the first dongle that’s officially certified by Google to accomplish this goal, and even after just a few minutes of use, its advantages are clear. This dongle is quick to pair and simple to understand. In short, it lacks the extra steps other products currently require.
Setting up the MA1 is as simple as plugging it into your car’s USB port — your car must have a USB-A port, as the dongle’s cable is not removable. Once plugged in, the next step is to pair the dongle through your phone’s Bluetooth menu. It appears under the name AndroidAuto with some additional characters. Unfortunately, there’s no automatic prompt for this, such as Google’s Fast Pair would provide. The only change you may have to do on your phone is ensure the toggle for Wireless Android Auto is enabled, which should be the case by default on modern phones.
Not long after pairing to Bluetooth, the dongle will automatically trigger the Android Auto wireless setup process on your phone and your car, with prompts appearing on both screens to help you get started.
All in all, I was able to get the Motorola MA1 paired and running in a matter of two or so minutes. Reconnecting to the dongle after the car has been powered off takes around 30 seconds on my Subaru Crosstrek.
In terms of the hardware itself, the MA1 is simple, but it works. It feels well built and not cheap. The rough plastic back seems like it won’t pick up any damage easily, though the top glossy portion certainly looks as though it’s going to pick up scuffs very quickly and easily if it’s sitting in a center console, as mine will by necessity. At the very least, it’s a total dust magnet. There’s only one button, a pairing button on the side that triggers the ability to pair a new device.
I’ve only used the Motorola MA1 for a very brief time at this point, so it’s not fair to talk about it in the context of a full review. We’ll have more to share on that front, as well as a comparison to AAWireless, in the coming weeks.
Motorola MA1 for wireless Android Auto will be available starting tomorrow, January 28 on Amazon.
If you haven’t been able to get in on previous orders, though, it’s important to note that the device has already sold out twice on Amazon according to the company, so further shipments may end up delayed. As of the time of this article going up, pre-orders are once again open, but with no set shipping date.
*The Motorola MA1 isn’t made directly by Motorola. The device is rather only using the brand as a license, while the product is actually manufactured by a Chinese company known as SGW Global. This has been done before, such as with the latest Moto 360 smartwatch.