How to test Android Auto in an emulator on Windows

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There are many Android emulators for Windows, although if you want to try more specific versions and with more moving parts such as Android Auto, the issue is complicated. However, if you want to take a look at Android Auto before buying a car with it, you can also test Android Auto on an emulator, with Android Studio.

We are talking about simulate a car screen with Android Auto support and not the version of Android Auto for phones that you can obviously try with a traditional Android emulator. The emulation of the Android Auto screen of a car is a bit more complicated, although it allows you to precisely simulate what it is like to connect your mobile to a car and use Android Auto, although instead of being a car it is a PC.

1. Prepare Android Studio


To use Android Auto on a PC we will use the official Google tools, so you must have Android Studio installed. Despite what it may seem, you don’t really need to install the Android Studio emulator, as this type of emulation works differently.

In Android Studio, you must open the SDK manager (menu Tools> SDK Manager) and enter the tab SDK Tools. In it, it is necessary to check the box Android Auto Desktop Head Unit Emulator and press okay for it to download and install.

2. Prepare ADB on your mobile


Then it is a good time to prepare the ADB connection between the mobile and the PC. We won’t need it until a little later. We have told you on several occasions how to connect to the mobile through ADB, so we are not going to repeat ourselves, although here is a summary of the steps:

  • Enable developer options on Android

  • Enable USB debugging in the developer options

  • Connect the mobile to the PC with cable

  • Allow USB debugging from your PC

3. Activate the Android Auto development options

The next step is to activate the developer options in Android Auto. Keep in mind that they are activated in Android Auto normal and not in Android Auto for phone screens. You will find the normal version of Android Auto in the system settings on Android 10 or higher, as it is part of Android. Use the settings finder at the top if you can’t find it.

To activate the Android Auto developer settings, you will have to touch several times in the section of Version until it is expanded to show more information. So, tap ten times on the version information until a notice tells you that the developer options have been activated.

Development options To activate the development options you must press Version several times and ten times again, after it is expanded

You will not need to enter the developer settings menu, but in the Android Auto menu, choose the option Start Main Unit Server. From that moment you will have a permanent notification indicating that the server is active.


4. Connect the mobile to the PC via USB

Now the time has come connect the mobile to the PC using a USB cableAlthough this will not cause any changes for the moment, as we have not yet activated the Android Auto screen emulator or activated an ADB redirect.


You shall enter an ADB command so that the server you just activated and the emulator on the PC can understand each other. To do this, you will generally have to open a command line in Windows (Start> Run> cmd.exe) and go to the folder where you have the ADB executables. You will generally have them in C:UsersusuarioAppDataLocalAndroidSdkplatform-tools, changing username to your username in Windows. Then type this command:

adb forward tcp:5277 tcp:5277

Now the time has come to open the screen emulator for Windows. You do not need to start it from the command line, but you can double click on the file desktop-head-unit.exe. Android Studio SDK manager usually installs it in path C:UsersusuarioAppDataLocalAndroidSdkextrasgoogleauto.

Set up Android Auto on your mobile

Androidauto4 The settings are more informative than anything else. By pressing “Continue” several times you will be ready

If everything has gone well, the mobile will announce that it is connecting to a car (if it does not happen, try disconnecting and reconnecting the cable). The Android Auto welcome and setup screen will then start, where you really don’t need to do anything except accept the privacy policies.


When you’re done, you can finally have your own Android Auto on Windows, like one more window. The system perfectly emulates how Android Auto works with a mobile connected to a compatible car, so that you can test the vast majority of functions and features.