Wednesday, June 29, 2022

You can hack Apple CarPlay in a Tesla with – what else – Android

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Shreya Christina
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While Tesla’s operating system is known for its many built-in features (including the ability to play AAA video games), it lacks one: support for Apple CarPlay or Android Auto. However, Michał Gapiński has figured out a way to hack support for both into Teslas, using a web browser, two Raspberry Pis, a handful of add-ons and cables, and Android.

Gapiński calls it the Android Tesla project (h/t to MacRumors to bring it to our attention), and it does what its name implies: it offers an Android Auto interface that you can access through the car’s built-in web browser. (Shout out to open web standards as always do the job.) Although this isn’t the first time we’ve seen a project like this – another developer Android Auto at work in the car’s web browser with just one app – emulating an entire tablet takes it to the next level.

That process isn’t exactly easy, which is to be expected since Gapiński presents this as an alpha. According to the Android Tesla hardware pageyou need a Raspberry Pi 4 to run Android, a Raspberry Pi 3 or higher to run Linux (which is responsible for capturing the video and shuffling it to your Tesla’s computer over Wi-Fi), add- on cards for HDMI and LTE and cables to hook everything together.

After going through the (long) software installation process and if you put all the hardware in your car, you should be able to connect your Tesla to the Pi’s Wi-Fi network and enter an IP address into Tesla’s web browser, where you’ll be greeted by Android. From there, you can launch an app that handles CarPlay and Android Auto, giving you access to your phone’s native music interface, maps, and more.

Based on a video that Gapiński uploadedthe experience doesn’t seem like the most responsive thing ever (and apparently audio instructions for navigation don’t work yet), but it seems to be quite functional.

Again, this project is still in development, hence the two Raspberry Pis. Gapiński’s site says the requirement “might be dropped in the future” and is intended to run on a single Raspberry Pi 4. It’s also a long way from a one- or two-step installation process. The current instructions shouldn’t be too unfamiliar to anyone with a fair amount of Linux or modding experience, but I can imagine they’re quite intimidating for someone looking for plug-and-play. The Tesla Android Project’s about page does state that the goal is to enable installation “in a matter of minutes.”

While being able to run CarPlay is a major selling point of Tesla Android, it can also work with Android Auto. Plus, there’s the full Android tablet interface that you can also use for things like web browsing or even run diagnosticsalthough evidently, you shouldn’t do any of that while driving.

There’s something wonderful about the fact that CarPlay is enabled through the competing OS, but the real magic here is all the work Gapiński has done. Even if it’s not ready for prime time yet, it’s cool to see people in unexpected (and profoundly nerdy) ways.

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