Why your Android phone may stop connecting to your car – Minneapolis Star Tribune


Q: My phone, a Google Pixel 3 XL, used to be able to play the directions from Google Maps through its wireless connection to my 2016 Toyota RAV4. But a couple of years ago that quit working, and now I can’t even get Google Maps directions on my phone unless I turn the car off first. However, I can use the phone to play Google Maps audio in a rental car. What can I do?

Jonathan Griebel, Maple Grove

A: Your phone and car may no longer be using compatible versions of Android Auto, the software that normally links them.

Toyota was behind other car manufacturers in adding Android Auto compatibility, and didn’t begin putting the software in the RAV4 until the 2020 model year. As a result, someone other than Toyota added the electronics and software for Android Auto — called a “stereo head unit” — to your 2016 car.

The question is whether the Android Auto software in your car has been updated since it was installed. If it hasn’t, it may no longer be compatible with your phone, which has probably had several updates to its Android operating system and its Android Auto app. That would explain why your phone can get map directions in rental cars (they probably have up-to-date Android Auto software) and why your phone doesn’t get map directions in your car unless your turn the car off (which probably turns off the flawed connection between your phone and the car.)

How can you fix the problem? Toyota dealerships may be able to upgrade the Android Auto software in car models sold with that feature, but they are unlikely to do it for cars like yours that have an aftermarket stereo head unit. So, your best bet is to try updating Android Auto on your phone and car yourself (some cars can receive an update through the phone, see tinyurl.com/ykn85c4h). If that doesn’t work, you will need to ask the manufacturer of your car’s stereo head unit about software updates. Major manufacturers include JVC, Pioneer, Sony and Alpine Electronics (see tinyurl.com/wymfmfds).

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Q: I used to wirelessly print the newspaper’s crossword puzzles from my iPad using my Google account to connect to “Cloud Print.” But it stopped working, so I had to start printing via the Apple Safari browser. (A third option, HP Smart, won’t print, either, because it says the connection is “not secure.”) Why is this happening?

Barb Miller, Chaska

A: You can’t use the Google Cloud Print service because it was discontinued on Dec. 31.

Cloud Print relied on the internet. It used your Google account to upload the crossword puzzles to an online server, which then sent them back to your printer.

The Safari browser doesn’t depend on an internet server. It uses the iPad’s AirPrint software to send the crossword puzzles to your printer over your home Wi-Fi network.

The HP Smart software should function the same way as AirPrint. The most likely reason it doesn’t work is that you have enabled HP Smart’s optional security settings, which are designed to protect your printer’s memory and data from outside tampering. Those settings may be blocking you from printing the crosswords directly from an internet website on the grounds that it’s too risky (you might be downloading malware.) If you find that too restrictive, you can turn off the security settings for your printer by using the controls in the HP Smart app.

E-mail tech questions to steve.j.alexander@gmail.com or write to Tech Q&A, S. 650 3rd Av., Suite 1300, ­Minneapolis, MN 55488. Include name, city and telephone number.

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