Step into a car with any modern phone and you can instantly tether your device to play music, answer calls via Bluetooth, and more. Step into a car with any phone that supports Android Auto and you can do a lot more … after you pull that USB cord out of the glovebox, connect the phone, and push a few buttons on your car’s system.
There’s a better way, of course: Google announced wireless Android Auto back in April 2018, a way to bypass the cable and connect directly. But doing so requires more bandwidth than the lowly trickle that is Bluetooth – it requires Wi-Fi speeds. And cars have been slow to adopt it. Visit the Android Auto website and Google simply says that “an increasing number of makes and models of vehicles and phones support wireless connections to Android Auto.”
In contrast, over 500 models supporting Android Auto itself are listed.
That’s why Motorola and its hardware partner SGW Global announced the Motorola MA1 at CES 2022. This wireless dongle makes it simple to connect and share location data, media, messaging, and more.
“Motorola strives to simplify our customers’ lives through innovative technology that seamlessly integrates into everyday life,“ said Dave Carroll, Executive Director Strategic Brand Partnerships at Motorola. “The Motorola MA1 eliminates the need to plug your phone into your car’s infotainment system every time you get in your car, allowing for easy access to your favorite navigation apps.”
Rather than wait for automakers to unveil the technology, a handful of Kickstarter projects have launched similar dongles over the past few years, and smaller makers have released products, such as the Carsifi dongle. You can install a third-party head unit in your car as well, such as the Kenwood Excelon DMX905S. Motorola is the first major brand to release such a product, however.
Available January 28 for $89.95, the dongle looks like your average USB-connected Oreo: a disc with a tail, in other words. (The box also includes a “Jel Pad” to secure the dongle in your car.) Leave it plugged into your car and you’ll link up seamlessly every time you step foot in the vehicle. That’s because Motorola’s MA1 supports fast, 5GHz Wi-Fi connections to pump all the data from your phone right over to your car’s console. Super!
TechRadar has yet to test the product; we will update this post after we’ve had a chance to try out the MA1.