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Android Auto and CarPlay in Ram trucks
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Photo: Bogdan Popa/autoevolution/reddit

Depending on who you ask, Android Auto is either a fantastic app or a major flop. Some users are so lucky that they encounter zero problems with Android Auto. The app runs flawlessly in their cars, and even voice commands work perfectly every time.

Others keep struggling with every little feature.

Connection problems, broken apps, random disconnects, missing features, and half-baked integration in some vehicles are the issues Android Auto users complain about most frequently.

Ram owners certainly know what I mean.

The latest-generation Rams come with a fabulous 12-inch screen. They support Android Auto and CarPlay, and considering the large display, you can imagine how convenient it should be to run apps like Google Maps and Waze.

Unfortunately, Apple users are the only ones enjoying a full-screen experience, while Android Auto sticks with a half-screen UI that makes no sense on such a large display – not for everybody, though, as some Ram owners like the split-screen layout.

2021 Ram 1500 TRX off\-road pickup truck

Photo: Ram

Rams fitted with UConnect 5 support full-screen CarPlay, while models equipped with a previous version can only run the phone mirroring system on half of the screen. Many 2019-2021 Ram owners hope they’ll eventually get support for full-screen Android Auto and CarPlay, but this is unlikely to happen. The only way to get the full-screen experience is to get a truck fitted with UConnect 5 – available starting with the 2022 MY.

The demand for the full-screen experience is obvious, considering Ram worked with Apple to make it happen in UConnect 5. The manufacturer heard the message, as a substantial part of its customer base wanted the full-screen mode. However, there’s always a group that’s against popular requests—some Ram owners want to stick with CarPlay on half of the screen, and fortunately, they can get it by pressing the home button.

While Ram added full-screen CarPlay support, it left Android Auto out in the cold. Running Android Auto on full-screen portrait screens is technically possible, and other carmakers have already integrated such capabilities, so everybody is asking who they should blame for the feature missing from their Rams. Nobody gives a clear answer, as both Ram and Google sidestepped the question repeatedly in the last few years.

2021 Ram 1500 TRX off\-road pickup truck

Photo: Ram

The only way to run Android Auto today in a UConnect 5-powered Ram is on half of the screen. People who like the split-screen UI are happy with it, but the vast majority hope Google and Ram will eventually add support for the full-screen mode.

I’ve seen many people trying different workarounds, such as changing Android Auto DPI and resolution settings, but unless the manufacturer adds support for the full-screen experience, the app will still run (and make all “forced” changes) in the screen estate it’s allowed to use.

A 12-inch display that can’t run Google Maps and Waze on the entire full screen feels like a half-baked implementation, and some Ram owners said their next phone would be an iPhone just because it has proper support in their trucks.

Unfortunately, Ram and Google have remained tight-lipped on their plans regarding Android Auto integration.

2021 Ram 1500 TRX off\-road pickup truck

Photo: Ram

However, this isn’t the first time customers have kept insisting on a full-screen experience on a portrait screen without knowing who to blame.

It happened a few years ago in the Subaru world, where owners wanted Android Auto to run in full-screen mode on their portrait screens. The 2022 Outback, a popular model in the United States, could only run Android in the upper part of the screen, whereas CarPlay used the entire screen estate for a more refined experience.

Subaru and Google blamed each other for the poor implementation. Subaru owners who contacted dealerships were told that Google didn’t develop proper support for Android Auto to run on portrait screens. The Mountain View-based tech giant claimed otherwise, explaining that it provides the technology for carmakers to adapt Android Auto to the displays in their cars. Google said it wasn’t its fault for the terrible experience on portrait screens, leaving the door open for further collaborations with carmakers specifically to optimize the experience on displays of all sizes and aspect ratios.

Meanwhile, Ram owners who want Android Auto on the entire screen have no option to get it. The split-screen UI comes with one major benefit: they can run Android Auto on half the screen and something else in the lower part. Many owners run Android Auto side-by-side with music playback so that they can control the media with one tap at any moment. However, this feature is already baked into Android Auto thanks to the Coolwalk UI.

With proper support, the Android Auto Coolwalk interface allows users to run multiple apps on the same screen, including navigation and music apps. This allows users to get turn-by-turn guidance and control the playback without changing screens. Coolwalk also supports portrait screens, as long as Android Auto benefits from full integration into the vehicle (which isn’t the case with Ram trucks).

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