Wireless Android Auto has been available for a while, but for a long time, it seemed like a problem that could only be solved by a brand-new vehicle. When wireless Android Auto dongles were introduced, everything changed. Google marketed the Motorola MA1 dongle as the “easy” version, offering a dead-simple user experience and direct support. But after using MA1 for a few months, I’m not so sure it’s the greatest choice.
Hardware Of Motorola MA1
The Motorola MA1 has a rather plain exterior. A fixed wire, one button, and the Motorola logo are all present on this little puck. It’s crucial to keep in mind that this Motorola isn’t the one you’re picturing; rather, it’s a division known as “Motorola Sound.” SGW Global, which has a branding license, really produces this particular product. The functionality of its device is adequate. To “trick” your car into believing it’s connected to your phone, the fixed cable plugs into a USB-A port, but the device is actually connected to your phone through a local Wi-Fi network. To pair with your phone or start the pairing procedure for a new device, press the single button on the side.
Over the past three months, the hardware hasn’t given me any problems, but I do have some concerns. Instead of being under the actual infotainment center in my Subaru Crosstrek, the Android Auto connector is in the center console. Is that good news there? It’s wonderful that I didn’t have to see the dongle because its shiny black style attracts dust and scratches. Is that terrible news? The super-rigid wire slightly diminished the usefulness of the storage area in my center console because it prevented the complete movement of the dongle out of the way. Certainly a minor annoyance, but one that could have been easily avoided by having a replaceable cord.
Motorola MA1 Setup
The Motorola MA1’s setup procedure is its best feature. It is swift and effortless. Once your car is running, plug it into a USB socket and pair your phone over Bluetooth. From that point on, you only need to set up Android Auto once and you’re ready to go. Depending on your car and phone, subsequent sessions take 20–40 seconds to connect and launch.
What if two devices are being utilized with the same vehicle? It does function, but it’s not exactly intuitive. Beyond the initial pairing procedure, adding a second device is not something that the button on the side of the dongle is very useful for. My Galaxy Z Fold 3 and Pixel 6 Pro required pairing with both the dongle and my car, as I discovered after testing with both devices. The only way I could find to break an established connection was to put the device I didn’t want to utilize Android Auto within airplane mode, thus I had to do that in order to switch from one to the other. The other gadget will automatically take over after roughly a minute. Although Redditors who used similar strategies reported varying degrees of success, this is still an improvement over doing nothing. At least two separate phones can be used with this device.
Performance & Battery Drain
When the Motorola MA1 first came out, I was very impressed with its performance. In terms of overall UI performance and streaming music, the connection was virtually indiscernible from a wired one. In a similar manner, a 30-minute drive barely affected the battery life of my Pixel 6 Pro, with it typically losing only a few percent of its charge.
But the Motorola MA1’s deteriorating performance over time has been its main issue for me. As of late, the MA1 causes unacceptable slowness whenever I use it with my Pixel 6 Pro. The turn-by-turn directions on Google Maps regularly lag behind by up to a minute, showing the same street even after I’ve turned off it. It’s OK for me to use it in my own city, but it would be a headache to use it in a foreign place with confusing intersections. Because of the lag, changing the song with the steering wheel controls typically takes more than 30 seconds.
Pixel 6 Pro Woes: Unveiling the Persistent MA1 Issue and Firmware Limitations
My Pixel 6 Pro started experiencing these problems around the time of the February 2022 security patch and has since encountered them more frequently. I’m currently testing the June Feature Drop beta. To rule out the possibility that the issue was unique to my phone, I reverted to a wired connection and had no slowness before switching back to AAWireless. It’s really annoying that the MA1 seems to be at the heart of this problem. And if it turns out to be a bug in the MA1 software, there’s nothing the manufacturer can do about it because there’s no mechanism to upgrade the firmware on already-purchased devices. This is a major drawback if the MA1 doesn’t get along with your phone, as some Samsung Galaxy owners have discovered. However, in my brief time using the MA1, I experienced no problems with my Galaxy Z Fold 3.
The increasing slowness that I’ve been seeing doesn’t appear to be a widespread problem, which is good news. If you purchased an MA1 and have noticed a gradual lag, please let us know.
Wireless dongles for Android Auto are still in their infancy. The Motorola MA1 may be the “easy” choice, but it hasn’t always served me well. It’s fantastic when it works, but the novelty has worn off. The crowdfunded dongle that pioneered this form factor, AAWireless, has been more reliable over time and has a brighter future in my opinion because its creators can keep the software up to date.
The difficulty in acquiring Motorola MA1 is, of course, the largest issue. Amazon and Target have carried the product for a while, but due to overwhelming demand, it has been consistently out of stock ever since it first went on sale, with customers only sometimes getting a chance to purchase one for the full $90. If you don’t buy from us, scalpers will charge you up to twice as much.
However, MA1 accomplishes its goals. With any luck, this is only the first of many similar products to enter the market, as it makes a wired Android Auto connection wireless.
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