In general, Android Auto is great. Much like Apple CarPlay, it provides a streamlined and convenient user experience that automakers are unlikely to ever replicate. Modern infotainment systems are infinitely better than they used to be, but it really just makes more sense to simply mirror your phone. Especially now that the wireless version exists, it’s basically a perfect system. Except when it’s not.
On the way back from grabbing lunch today, I had a Spotify playlist on because, well, why not? And since the Mazda CX-5 I was driving had Android Auto, I was, of course, using that. It’s convenient! I was also listening to that playlist Spotify makes for you at the end of the year, so I had a steady stream of songs I already liked on shuffle.
That includes this song by a now-defunct Red Dirt/Southern rock/Americana band Cross Canadian Ragweed (not to be confused with the other more famous CCR, Creedence Clearwater Revival):
Obviously, the song isn’t going to be everyone’s cup of tea, but hey, I like what I like. And I happen to like bands that sound like they might be playing at the dive bar down the street. Either way, the point isn’t whether you like my taste in music or not. It’s that the song in question somehow broke Android Auto.
Thankfully, the screen didn’t freeze, and the software didn’t need to be rebooted, but when the track got to the chorus, something incredibly annoying happened.
For whatever reason, the line, “Make ‘em open up their ears and listen to your song. It don’t matter who’s right or wrong,” triggered the Google Assistant, pausing the song. At first, I thought I must have accidentally hit a voice command button on the steering wheel. But no.
All three times that line came back, it activated Google Assistant. This meant that multiple times over the course of only a couple of minutes, I had to close the assistant and un-pause the song to get it playing again. And while Mazda’s rotary knob is generally fine, it still made doing so slower and more annoying than it needed to be.
To be clear, I don’t think this is Mazda’s fault. I guess it’s possible, but it seems more likely that it’s Android Auto’s voice control being a little too enthusiastic. But even weirder, I wasn’t able to replicate the issue with my phone unplugged. I’ve played the song off my laptop and on my phone, and not once did the phone decide I wanted to use Google Assistant.
Also, I’m not going to lie, it’s a little creepy that the line that triggered this issue is, “Make ‘em open up their ears and listen to your song.” You know, because Android Auto’s ears were clearly already open and listening to my song.
It’s easy enough to just not listen to that song in the car, but now I’m curious. Has anyone else experienced something similar with Android Auto or Apple CarPlay? If so, what song was it? Is there any pattern here, or is it completely random?
If you have any answers, please let me know in the comments.