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Discussion Starter #1
I've been following this forum for several weeks in anticipation of purchasing my first Subaru and am grateful for all of the helpful information here. I picked up my 2017 Impreza hatchback 2.0i Premium one week ago. Last weekend I had a chance to play around with setting up navigation on a used Android phone without a cell phone plan or data plan and would like to share my experience.

In order to use Apple CarPlay on the 2017 Subaru Impreza I am required to turn on Siri (which requires data) and Google Maps is not currently an option: Apple CarPlay navigation uses Apple Maps. I was interested in finding a way to use navigation in the Impreza without cell phone data: I successfully did this using an inexpensive Android phone without a SIM card (no cellular service) that I purchased used for $20.

I have wifi access in my garage: I am uncertain if that is necessary for the initial setup of Android Car Play

1. Purchase an inexpensive Android phone running 5.0 (Lollipop) or newer Android software. I purchased a used Motorola Moto E locally for $20 but you can find them for sale new on line for about $30. It shouldn't matter what carrier the phone is tied to, since you won't be activating cell phone service on the phone.
2. On my used Android phone without a SIM card when I started it I was offered the option of "Wifi only" since no SIM card (cell phone chip) was installed: I opted for Wifi Only.
3. Connect to wifi, tap on "Google Play" (app store) search for "Android Auto" app, download and install it
4. Open Google Maps on the Android phone--I think it is already installed. On the top left tap on the 3 bars and choose "offline areas" from the drop down list. Tap on "Select your own Area"--you can expand or contract the pre-selected local area or move to a different area. You can download multiple offline areas--the only limitation is the amount of free space on the phone (or insert a memory chip). The phone will likely provide a generic label for these areas ("Offline Area 1") which you can re-name
5. Connect your Android phone to the Impreza using a USB cable (not Bluetooth) and follow the instructions to set up Android Car Play. The setup might automatically connect the phone with Bluetooth--I think you can turn off Bluetooth on the Android phone, it does not seem to be needed for navigation
6. After Android Car Play is set up you will be able to tap on the Android Car Play app on the main display on the Impreza: after it opens, if you tap on the icon lower left with an arrow it will open a real-time map of your off-line Google map (as long as you are within that map region) and will track your vehicle movement in real time.

Now the fun part:
If you tap on the microphone icon in Android Car top right while not connected to wifi you will receive a message that indicates you are not connected and you need to download a language pack. I was perplexed by this message but eventually realized there was a banner on the Android phone the next time I connected to wifi indicating I needed to download a language pack: I tapped on that, downloaded the language pack to the Android phone, and the next time I tapped on the microphone icon Android Car while not connected to wifi it worked.

1. If your Android Car is active AND you have wifi access on the Android phone, you can tap on the microphone icon (top right), say "Navigate to" and say an address, and Google Maps will set up navigation to your destination, even after you lose your wifi access. However, if you take a detour a message will pop up stating "Rerouting" that will remain (until you get back to the original route or until you have wifi access again or set up navigation to your destination again off line).
2. If you navigate to an address in your gmail contacts routing and rerouting will work even if you take a detour. So you can enter a temporary destination in your Gmail contacts to have full navigation to that destination.

This works seamlessly as long as the Android phone is connected to the USB port in the car and is turned on. You do not have to unlock/open the cell phone in order to use Android Car. You will need to update Google Maps offline areas every 30 days over wifi (or you can update more frequently).
I am undecided whether to leave the phone connected continuously to the USB port since that port is active even when the car is turned off.
I am comfortable leaving this $20 phone without a SIM chip or cellular data in my center console when the car is parked.
 

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Will probably giving this a try.
We intentionally did not get Nav in the car for various reasons and actually planned to just add a stand alone GPS unit that we share with the "other" vehicle. But this looks interesting.
One concern that comes to mind is some of the problems with battery overheating catastrophically and whether one should be concerned about leaving it plugged in 24/7/365.
Thanks for sharing this. Will be watching if there are any updates/other experiences.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Update:

1. The USB port does not have power when the car is turned off, so there is no problem leaving my Android cell phone connected full time.
2. I'm still trying to figure out if I can have my "real" iPhone connected with Bluetooth to receive calls in the car while the Android phone is connected by USB cable
3. I am having to open the Android phone and tap on the Android Car app to start it (I recall previously it started automatically ??) However I have discovered I can set up the Android phone to open by voice recognition ("OK Google") then say "Start Android Car" and it starts up without touching the phone.
4. I decided I don't want any personal information on this dedicated inexpensive Android phone that I am leaving in the car--I set up a new Gmail account (MyNameSubaru) and set up "Contacts" of destinations I want.
 

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Bought a cheapie Android phone at Wally World today and have played with this a bit. (No SIM card, phone not activated, running off the home wifi.) Still not getting it to show on the Impreza screen. Just came back in and re-read what you've posted.

Two things I noticed in the re-read, first starting the app from the phone. Have not yet attempted to also run my active phone over BT at the same time.

Part of my stumbling/frustration is a lack of familiarity with the Android phone. Will keep plugging.

Thanks again for the tip.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
I am now convinced it is not possible to have one phone (the Android) connected by USB cable AND another phone connected by Bluetooth

When I plug the USB cable into the Android phone the phone shows "charging" even with the ignition turned off, but I'm fairly convinced it is NOT charging--when I leave the phone plugged in overnight the battery charge on the phone is always lower (not higher) than when I left it.

You definitely need the Android Car app to be running on the Android phone in order to see the map on the car display. I'm excited to hear when you get this working!

David
 

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Frustrated and the best thing for me to do when that happens is walk away (especially when its processes running that I can't see or manipulate.) So I set it aside last night.

This morning, picked up the phone which had been inside the house. Took it to the car and plugged it in and EUREKA! I have maps on the car screen. The wifi was turned off. *Note, in my mind, this may be the difference in last night vs. this morning.

Tried finding a new location by contact name. (Ok, google, navigate to contact A) First response was "you are offline", so I picked up the phone and went to settings and re-connected to wifi. It was slow but then showed that routing on car screen.

Tried finding a non-contact. (OK, google. Navigate to Crowne Plaza Charleston Airport, Charleston South Carolina.) Slower but it showed, complete with three options for routing.

Still need to check on the real/live phone via BT and also see if navigation works somewhere other than my garage/driveway as I already can get around that without a map. ;)
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Frustrated and the best thing for me to do when that happens is walk away (especially when its processes running that I can't see or manipulate.) So I set it aside last night.
This morning, picked up the phone which had been inside the house. Took it to the car and plugged it in and EUREKA! I have maps on the car screen. The wifi was turned off. *Note, in my mind, this may be the difference in last night vs. this morning.
Tried finding a new location by contact name. (Ok, google, navigate to contact A) First response was "you are offline", so I picked up the phone and went to settings and re-connected to wifi. It was slow but then showed that routing on car screen.
Tried finding a non-contact. (OK, google. Navigate to Crowne Plaza Charleston Airport, Charleston South Carolina.) Slower but it showed, complete with three options for routing.
Still need to check on the real/live phone via BT and also see if navigation works somewhere other than my garage/driveway as I already can get around that without a map. ;)
EUREKA!
Sometimes I will get the voice announcement that says something to the effect "I notice you are offline but there are other things I can help with", but if I try again ("navigate to") the second time it will work
When you are not connected to wi-fi you can only navigate to a "contact" in your address book, eg, "navigate to John Smith" or "navigate to Chevron" --do not speak the address, just the contact name.
You can navigate to any location on your offline map while connected to wifi, but after you lose your wifi connection if you make a detour from the designated route the map will try to re-route you without success.
Sometimes the Android Car app starts right up when I turn on the car, sometimes I have to open the app on the cell phone first.
Keep playing with this--I think you'll find it works surprisingly well once you get the hang of it.
 

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Luckily I knew the way to drive to the bank/ATM when I left the driveway. No joy.
Couldn't get the app on the car screen this time although the dataless phone directed me there.
Still trial and error.
Wondering if there is something to the combination of phone on/off before plugged in, whether plugged in before the key switched, etc.
Experimentation continues.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Luckily I knew the way to drive to the bank/ATM when I left the driveway. No joy.
Couldn't get the app on the car screen this time although the dataless phone directed me there.
Still trial and error.
Wondering if there is something to the combination of phone on/off before plugged in, whether plugged in before the key switched, etc.
Experimentation continues.
Make sure your other phone is disconnected from the car (via Bluetooth)?
 

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Make sure your other phone is disconnected from the car (via Bluetooth)?
And that is the answer.
You cannot connect the dataless phone via USB and a live phone via BT at the same time. I tried to connect the live phone via BT after initiating Android Auto through the dataless phone and it would not allow the connection without exiting Android Auto.
I had hoped there might be some combo of order of connection but it is not to be.

So, at least for me, this now qualifies as a "neat and useful trick" but not a replacement for my dedicated standalone GPS unit. Although I didn't think I particularly cared about the BT connection ability, I have seen that we use it more than expected in the limited (one month, 360 miles) time we've had the car.

And I've learned a few things from the ($30) cheap android phone.

  • It's much easier to send a text message than on my Gibbs (reference to Mark Harmon character on series NCIS, i.e. flip) phone.
  • I don't want all those apps running and beeping all the time but voice commands are kind of neat.
  • It makes for an inexpensive and relatively convenient music/listening storage device.

Thanks again to Nodata for the info and guidance. Its been a worthwhile learning experience.
 

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What's the point of going through all those headaches & wasting time when you can just connect your iPhone & use apple maps with Carplay. I admit apple maps are not as good as google maps but at least you can view on the infotainment screen turn by turn directions. If you don't have an iPhone then go out & buy one instead of being cheapskates with your $20 or $30 junk android phones :)
 

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What's the point of going through all those headaches & wasting time when you can just connect your iPhone & use apple maps with Carplay. I admit apple maps are not as good as google maps but at least you can view on the infotainment screen turn by turn directions. If you don't have an iPhone then go out & buy one instead of being cheapskates with your $20 or $30 junk android phones :)
1) As you point out, Apple CarPlay requires you to use the Apple mapping software instead of Google Maps
2) Apple CarPlay requires constant data connection while using it--I was attempting to find a way to use Google Maps on the Impreza screen without using any data

Much, much simpler if you just plug in your iPhone or Android phone with a data plan.
 

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1) As you point out, Apple CarPlay requires you to use the Apple mapping software instead of Google Maps
2) Apple CarPlay requires constant data connection while using it--I was attempting to find a way to use Google Maps on the Impreza screen without using any data

Much, much simpler if you just plug in your iPhone or Android phone with a data plan.
Yeah you got to have a constant data connection just like with all the other apps you use while on the go. Google maps will not work on the infotainment screen. No data plan, no updating your status on Facebook or getting directions to the local strip club haha :wink2:
 

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Don't know about getting the maps in the dash display, but one of the best free NAV apps which doesn't require any data connection is HERE WE GO. Has extensive world maps which you can download via wifi. The app operates totally off line in your car. Basically turns your phone into a stand alone GPS. Used it in Iceland and Norway last summer. The excellent voice guided maps were spot on.
 

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Don't know about getting the maps in the dash display, but one of the best free NAV apps which doesn't require any data connection is HERE WE GO. Has extensive world maps which you can download via wifi. The app operates totally off line in your car. Basically turns your phone into a stand alone GPS. Used it in Iceland and Norway last summer. The excellent voice guided maps were spot on.
I think google maps has an offline download option also but have never used it. "HERE WE GO" sounds like the perfect option for no data users.
 

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I have a $3 a month Kroger iwireless plan a Gibbs (flip) phone. Used it with BT to receive/make calls and texts. I left it in the car connected to usb for charging - topped off enough for the amount of driving I did. Worked pretty well. But the stumbling block is that you can only have one BT connection.
 

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You can use Google Maps offline, but you can only down a small portion of the map. With HERE you can download entire states or countries. As I said, used it in Iceland and Norway and it was flawless and totally offline.
 

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Just curious....

Since you have no data plan attached to the Android phone and the GPS still works with Google Maps, I assume that you are downloading Google Maps to the phone in its entirety?

Likewise, this hack would allow you to have GPS in areas without cel coverage?

We both have iPhones with grandfathered unlimited data plans, however a lot of the state doesn't have cel service.
 

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Just curious....

Since you have no data plan attached to the Android phone and the GPS still works with Google Maps, I assume that you are downloading Google Maps to the phone in its entirety?

Likewise, this hack would allow you to have GPS in areas without cel coverage?

We both have iPhones with grandfathered unlimited data plans, however a lot of the state doesn't have cel service.

Correct. I am easily able to download entire states using wi-fi for off line use.

I can start the Android Car app on the cell phone and navigate to any location in my off-line Google map using voice (or typed) command, then plug the Android phone into the car and navigation works fine on the Subaru display without any cellular service--even re-routing if I take a detour.
 
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