Motorola MA1 is now available at Best Buy


Wi-fi Android Auto has been round for fairly some time now, however for ages, it felt like one thing that solely a model new automotive would clear up. That every one modified with the arrival of wi-fi Android Auto dongles, and the Motorola MA1 dongle was pitched because the “simple” model, with a dead-simple expertise and direct backing from Google. After just a few months of use, although, I’m not so satisfied MA1 is the greatest choice.

{Hardware}

The bodily look of the Motorola MA1 is fairly easy. It’s somewhat puck with a set cable, a single button, and a Motorola brand plastered on prime. In fact, it’s essential to keep in mind that this isn’t the Motorola you’re pondering of, however slightly a sub-brand generally known as “Motorola Sound.” This product particularly is definitely produced by SGW International, which licenses the branding.

By way of how that {hardware} works, it will get the job completed. The mounted cable plugs right into a USB-A port to “trick” your automotive into pondering it’s related to your cellphone, the place the product itself is definitely related to your cellphone over a neighborhood Wi-Fi community. The only button on the aspect is used for pairing to your cellphone, or initiating the pairing course of for a brand new gadget. 

The {hardware} itself by no means triggered me any points over the previous three months, however I do have some qualms. In my Subaru Crosstrek, the Android Auto port is situated within the middle console, slightly than beneath the precise infotainment middle. The excellent news there? I didn’t must see the dongle, which is nice information contemplating its shiny black design is a mud and scratch magnet. The unhealthy information? The super-rigid cable left the storage portion of my middle console a bit much less helpful, because the dongle couldn’t get totally out of the way in which. A minor inconvenience, actually, however one which simply may have been averted by utilizing a detachable cable.

Fastened cables are all the time a nasty thought

Setup

The most effective a part of the Motorola MA1 is its setup course of. It’s fast and seamless. Plug it into the USB port, flip in your automotive, and pair your cellphone over Bluetooth. From there, you must arrange Android Auto a single time, and then you definitely’re good to go from that time on. Subsequent classes have a 20-40 second connection and startup course of relying in your automobile and cellphone.

What about when there are two gadgets getting used with the identical automotive? Nicely, it really works, nevertheless it’s not significantly intuitive. The button on the aspect of the dongle doesn’t actually have a lot to do with connecting a second gadget past the preliminary pairing course of. In testing with my Galaxy Z Fold 3 and Pixel 6 Professional, I discovered that each gadgets wanted to be paired with each the dongle itself and my automotive. To go from one to the opposite, I wanted to put the gadget I didn’t wish to use Android Auto with on airplane mode, as that was the one approach I discovered to kill a longtime connection. After a couple of minute, the opposite gadget will mechanically take over. That is removed from a dependable or intuitive resolution – Redditors reported combined outcomes utilizing related ways – nevertheless it’s higher than nothing. At the very least you can use this gadget with two completely different telephones.

Efficiency & Battery Drain

When Motorola MA1 launched, it left a terrific first impression on me when it got here to efficiency. The connection felt indistinguishable from a wired connection, each on basic UI efficiency and streaming audio. Battery drain, too, was negligible, with a 30-minute drive usually solely sipping just a few share factors from my Pixel 6 Professional.

However over time, the most important downside I’ve had with the Motorola MA1 has been degraded efficiency. These days, every session utilizing the MA1 with my Pixel 6 Professional is laggy to an unusable diploma. When utilizing Google Maps, I’ve seen turn-by-turn instructions lag behind by as much as a full minute, which frequently means the show remains to be exhibiting the road I already turned off of. That’s positive after I’m simply driving round my native metropolis, nevertheless it’d be a nightmare in an unfamiliar space with advanced junctions. The lag points additionally imply that music is usually closely delayed, with the steering wheel controls typically not leading to a brand new track for over 30 seconds.

On my Pixel 6 Professional, these points began exhibiting up across the time of the February 2022 safety patch, intermittently on the time, however they’ve solely turn out to be extra widespread within the time since. At the moment, I’m operating on the beta for the June Characteristic Drop. As a degree of reference, to make sure it wasn’t simply my cellphone or the beta software program on it, I swapped again to a wired reference to no points, after which went again to AAWireless and likewise skilled no lag in any way. One way or the other, the basis trigger right here is the MA1, and it’s extraordinarily irritating, to say the least.

And, that actually shines a lightweight on what I feel is the most important downside with MA1. Let’s say that this can be a software program concern on the MA1 and never simply an expertise restricted to me — which is feasible! —there’s no approach the producer can repair software program issues on present models.

There’s no solution to set up firmware updates on Motorola MA1.

That’s additionally a giant destructive if the MA1 simply doesn’t appear to love your cellphone, as some Samsung Galaxy house owners have discovered – I solely used MA1 briefly with my Galaxy Z Fold 3, nevertheless it labored with out concern.

Fortunately, the problem I’ve been experiencing, with lag getting worse over time, doesn’t appear to be very widespread. If you happen to picked up an MA1 and have been seeing lag develop over time, tell us.

Last Ideas

At this level, we’re nonetheless early in wi-fi dongles for Android Auto. Motorola MA1 is the “simple” choice, however in my expertise, it’s not been the greatest one. When it really works, it really works brilliantly, however the preliminary shine has worn off. AAWireless, the crowdfunded dongle that debuted this type issue, has remained steady for longer and has a brighter future in my guide for the reason that builders behind it even have the power to replace the software program over time.

And that’s not even to say the most important downside with Motorola MA1 – truly shopping for it. The product has been listed at Amazon and Goal for months, however excessive demand has left it out of inventory always because it launched, with solely the occasional five-minute window to buy a unit for its $90 retail value. In any other case, you’re left with scalpers asking as much as twice the value.

That stated, MA1 does the job it units out to do. It turns a wired Android Auto connection wi-fi, and I hope it’s only the start of merchandise like this hitting the market.

The place to (attempt to) purchase Motorola MA1:

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