Tech

Turn an Android Phone Into an Infotainment System

Who needs an expensive system when you have an old smartphone?

need to know

  • First, get an old Android phone, an ELM 327 scanner, and an aux input FM modulator or headunit.
  • Then download an ODB-II interface applet and use it to pair your phone with the scanning device.
  • Download additional navigation or entertainment apps to add functionality to your setup.

This article explains how to turn an Android phone into an infotainment hub for your car so you can play music and videos and listen to turn-by-turn navigation through your car’s speakers. This method was tested on HTC Dream (G1), one of the oldest Android phones on the market, so it’s likely to work on many others as well.

What do you need

To complete this project you need:

  • An old Android phone that you no longer use.
  • An ELM 327 Bluetooth or WiFi scan tool device.
  • An FM modulator or transmitter or a base unit with an auxiliary input.
  • A holder to keep your phone in place.
  • An OBD-II interface implementation.
  • Navigation and entertainment applications.

How to turn Android phone into infotainment system?

After collecting your materials, follow the steps below to connect your Android phone to the car.

Locate the ODB-II connector in your vehicle. Most OBD-II connectors are very easy to find. The specs say the connector should be 60 centimeters away from the steering wheel, so most of them are within that range.

The first place to look is under the dash to the left or right of the steering column. You can find the connector mounted on the front or the back next to the firewall.

Most OBD-II connectors are obvious, but sometimes you’ll need to do some research.

Lifewire by Jeremy Laukkonen

Connect the ODB-II interface. If the connector is in an awkward location, you may need to purchase a low-profile interface device. Many connectors are close to the knees or legs of the drive, so an interface device that is too long can get in the way.

In situations where you think you might kick the device while getting on and off the vehicle, it is important to use a low profile device instead of accidentally damaging the OBD-II connector.

OBD-II connectors have a design that prevents you from plugging anything into them. You can continue to force it by bending the pins in its interface, so make sure you orient it correctly before pushing it into place.

Bluetooth OBD-II Interface

You can’t plug the interface upside down, but you can bend the pins if you try.

Lifewire by Jeremy Laukkonen

Install the Android interface software. Many OBD-II interface implementations are available, so you should find one that works with your particular hardware and Android version. Torque is a popular option that only offers a free “lite” version that’s useful for testing your system.

You can also try a free version first to make sure the app works on your phone and connects to your ELM 327. Unfortunately, even though the Google Play Store says an app will run on your phone, you may find that the app refuses to pair. with your verification tool.

G1 operating torque

There are many free apps available, but you may want to start with the free version of Torque to make sure your Bluetooth interface is working.

Lifewire by Jeremy Laukkonen

Pair your phone with the ELM 327 scanner. If you are using a Bluetooth interface device, you will need to pair it with your phone. Sometimes pairing fails, which usually indicates a problem with the interface device. In this case, you may need to buy a new unit.

After pairing Android with your browser, you will be able to access all kinds of important information from your car’s onboard computer.

Configure your FM transmitter or aux cable. If your main unit has an auxiliary input, you can play music using your Android phone through this interface. But it is possible to do the same with a cheap FM transmitter or FM modulator. You can also use a USB connection if your base unit has one.

Many Bluetooth car kits provide the same basic type of functionality, and you can still use your Android phone for hands-free calling if you have an active voice plan.

An FM transmitter connected to an Android phone

If your headunit doesn’t have any audio inputs, an FM transmitter will usually do the job.

Lifewire by Jeremy Laukkonen

Install other apps. If you have an active data connection or mobile hotspot on your phone, you can turn it into a convenient infotainment system. You can monitor your vehicle via the OBD-II interface, play music, use a free GPS navigation app for turn-by-turn directions, and use an almost endless array of other functionality via other apps.

The result won’t match the kind of functionality you get from a fancy new OEM infotainment system, but you can get pretty close without breaking the bank.

A phone with an older version of Android may not be able to run some of the latest diagnostic and entertainment software.


See more

Turn an Android Phone Into an Infotainment System

Who needs an expensive system when you have an old smartphone?

What to Know
First, get an old Android phone, an ELM 327 scan device, and an FM modulator or head unit with an aux input.
Then, download an ODB-II interface app and use it to pair your phone to the scanning device.
Download additional navigation or entertainment apps to add functionality to your setup.

This article explains how to turn an Android phone into an infotainment center for your car so you can play music and videos and hear turn-by-turn navigation through your car’s speakers. This method was tested on the HTC Dream (G1), one of the oldest Android phones in existence, so it’s likely to work on many others.

What You Need

To complete this project, you need:

An old Android phone you aren’t using anymore.
A Bluetooth or WiFi ELM 327 scan tool device.
An FM modulator or transmitter or a head unit with an aux input.
A mount to hold your phone in place.
An OBD-II interface app.
Navigation and entertainment apps.
How to Turn an Android Phone into an Infotainment System

Once you’ve gathered your materials, follow these steps to connect your Android phone to your car.

Locate the ODB-II connector in your vehicle. Most OBD-II connectors are very easy to locate. The specifications state that the connector must be within two feet of the steering wheel, so most are within that vicinity.

The first place to look is under the dash to the left or right of the steering column. You may find the connector right up front or mounted back near the firewall.

Most OBD-II connectors are right out in the open, but you’ll occasionally have to search a little.
Lifewire / Jeremy Laukkonen

Plug in the ODB-II interface. If the connector is in an awkward place, you may need to buy a low-profile interface device. Many connectors are near the driver’s knees or legs, so an interface device that’s too long may get in the way.

In cases where you feel that you may kick the device when getting in and out of the car, it is essential to go with a low-profile device rather than accidentally damaging your OBD-II connector.

OBD-II connectors have a design that prevents you from plugging anything into them upside down. You can still bend the pins in your interface by forcing it, though, so ensure that you have it appropriately oriented before you push it into place.
You can’t plug the interface in upside down, but you might bend the pins if you try.
Lifewire / Jeremy Laukkonen

Install the Android interface software. Many OBD-II interface apps are available, so you should be able to find one that will work with your specific hardware and version of Android. Torque is a popular option that offers a free “lite” version that’s useful for just testing your system.

You may also want to try out a free version first to make sure that the app will run on your phone and connect to your ELM 327 device. Unfortunately, even if the Google Play store says that an app will run on your phone, you may find that it refuses to pair with your scan tool.

There are a lot of free apps available, but you might want to start with the free version of Torque to make sure your Bluetooth interface works.
Lifewire / Jeremy Laukkonen

Pair your phone with the ELM 327 scanner. If you’re using a Bluetooth interface device, you’ll have to pair it with your phone. Pairing sometimes fails, which typically indicates an issue with the interface device. In that case, you may have to obtain a new unit.

Once you’ve paired the Android to your scanner, you’ll be able to access all sorts of important information from your vehicle’s onboard computer.

Set up your FM transmitter or auxiliary cable. If your head unit has an auxiliary input, then you can use your Android phone to play music through that interface. However, it’s also possible to do the same thing with an inexpensive FM transmitter or an FM modulator. You can also use a USB connection if your head unit has one.

Many Bluetooth car kits achieve this same primary type of functionality, and you may be able to use your Android phone for hands-free calling if it still has an active voice plan.

If your head unit doesn’t have any audio inputs, an FM transmitter will typically get the job done.
Lifewire / Jeremy Laukkonen

Install other apps. If you have an active data connection on your phone or a mobile hotspot, you can turn it into a proper infotainment system. You can then monitor your vehicle through the OBD-II interface, play music, use a free GPS navigation app for turn-by-turn directions, and almost endless other functionality through other apps.

The result won’t match the kind of functionality you get out of a fancy new OEM infotainment system, but you can get fairly close without spending a lot of money.

A phone running an outdated version of Android might not be able to run some of the latest diagnostic and entertainment software.

#Turn #Android #Phone #Infotainment #System


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