April 21, 2022

Hacking Apple CarPlay into a Tesla using Android 

While Tesla’o perating system is comprehended for having tons of built-in features (including the ability to play AAA video games), one capability is notably missing: support for Apple CarPlay or Android Auto.

However, Michał Gapiński has figured out a way to hack help for both into Teslas, employing a web browser, two Raspberry Pis, a handful of add-ons and cords, and Android.

Gapiński reaches the Android Tesla Project (h/t to MacRumors for getting it to our attention). It does what its title implies: it delivers an Android Auto interface that you can access via the car’s built-in web browser. (Call out to open web norms, setting in the work as always.)

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While this isn’t the first time we’ve noticed a project like this — another developer got Android Auto operating in the car’s web browser using just an app — emulating an exclusive tablet is taking it to the next deck.

That process isn’t exactly comfortable, which is to be expected since Gapiński is launching this as an alpha. According to the Android Tesla hardware portal, you’ll require a Raspberry Pi 4 to run Android and a Raspberry Pi 3 or Linux. It is responsible for seizing the video and rearranging it to your Tesla’s computer on Wi-Fi), add-on cards for LTE and HDMI, and cables to connect it all.

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After driving through the (lengthy) software setup process and pushing all the hardware into your car, you should be able to link your Tesla to the Pi’s Wi-Fi network and document the IP address in the Tesla’s browser, where Android welcomes you. Next, you can launch an app that handles CarPlay and Android Auto, giving you access to your phone’s native music interface, maps, etc.

The experience doesn’t appear the most responsive thing ever (navigation audio instructions aren’t working yet) based on a video Gapiński uploaded. Still, it does seem to be politely functional.

Again, though, this task is very much still in development, hence the two Raspberry Pis. Gapiński’s site states the essential “might be dropped in the future” and that the plan is to run on a single Raspberry Pi 4. It’s also very far from a one- or two-step installation procedure.

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The current instructions shouldn’t be too strange to anyone with a decent amount of Linux or modding experience. Still, I’d imagine they’re pretty grim for someone peeking to plug and play. The Tesla Android Project’s about page does suggest that the goal is to complete installation possible “in a matter of minutes.”

While running CarPlay is a significant selling point of Tesla Android, it can also work with Android Auto. Plus, there’s the whole Android tablet interface that you can use, too, for things like web browsing or even conducting diagnostics, although apparently, you should not do any of that while moving.

Something is comforting about CarPlay being enabled through its competing operating system, but the authentic charm is all the work Gapiński’s put in. Even if it’s not qualified for prime time, it’s cool to see people adding attributes to their cars in unexpected and sincerely nerdy patterns.

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