SUVs

2019 Acura RDX will get Android Auto but not until after it's launched

Yes you'll have to wait, but the wait won't be long.

Antuan Goodwin/Roadshow

We've already taken a close look at the dashboard tech in the 2019 Acura RDX as we approach the premium SUV's launch in just a few days. The all-new AcuraLink with True Touchpad infotainment package fixes nearly all of the nitpicks and complaints that I had with the previous-generation tech suite. But between my initial look at the prototype at the Detroit Auto Show and my recent spin in the production car, one important feature has gone missing.

The new RDX was scheduled to launch with both Android Auto and Apple CarPlay connectivity as standard features, but when the car rolls onto dealerships on June 1st, only Apple's smartphone mirroring and apps suite will be on the features list. What gives?

Parent company Honda offers both Android Auto and Apple CarPlay on its Android-based HondaLink display audio software. The new AcuraLink software is also Android-based, so it's not a stretch to assume Honda and Acura's systems share core software bones. This should have made porting features such as smartphone mirroring a snap. So why doesn't the 2019 Acura RDX offer Android Auto?

It turns out that Acura's new and novel control scheme is at the heart of the issue. Android Auto works well with traditional touchscreen setups (such as Honda's system) or physical rotary controllers (such as Audi's MMI system), but it doesn't play nicely with the new True Touch controller... yet.

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"Regarding Android Auto, there's actually no specification for Android that works with a touchpad," said Acura RDX Engineering Development Leader Stephen Frey at a media event last week. "[Google is] currently developing that right now and, when it's ready, it will be available to be applied onto vehicles on the market."

Basically, Acura worked with Google to get Android Auto working with the RDX's absolute-positioned touchpad control scheme -- which is sort of like a laptop's trackpad, but also very different -- but compatibility wasn't ready in time for the June 2018 launch window. So Android Auto compatibility was delayed. When the kinks are eventually ironed out, Acura will make the feature available via software update for all 2019 or newer RDX vehicles. 

I've used Android for years and I don't like the idea of waiting without an idea of how long that wait will be. But it's nice to know that at least Acura's tech is headed in the right direction.

Meanwhile, Apple CarPlay seems to work just fine with the True Touch controller and will be standard at launch. You'll be able to find out just how well it works and dig into many more details about the 2019 Acura RDX when our first drive review hits the web Thursday morning. Stay tuned.