The Amazon Fire 7 is one of the most inexpensive tablets you can buy. This device goes for as little as $20 second-hand or $75 brand-new.
Despite being slow and running on Amazon’s version of Android, Fire OS; the Fire 7 tablet can be repurposed as an Android Auto head unit.
No GPS, no problem
The Amazon Fire 7 doesn’t have the hardware to support GPS connectivity. You might be wondering how can it be useful as a head unit without navigation.
It turns out there are cost-effective ways to get Android Auto running with navigation on the Fire 7.
How to get Android Auto on the Amazon Fire 7
Android Auto is a Google-developed mobile app that enables users to link their Android smartphone with their car’s infotainment system. By utilizing a simplified interface and voice commands, drivers can safely and easily access features like navigation, music, messaging, and calling. This improves the driving experience by reducing distractions, increasing convenience, and providing hands-free access to essential features for safe driving.
However, older cars lack this feature, and using an aftermarket head unit can be costly and potentially incompatible. Instead, you can utilize an Android tablet to access the same features without altering your car’s wiring, reducing the risk involved.
1) Install Headunit Reloaded
This is the most cost-effective way to turn your Amazon Fire 7 tablet into an Android Auto head unit. The app works by emulating Android Auto on the host device (in this case, the Fire 7 tablet). You also have the option to connect wirelessly or via USB.
To learn how to install and use Headunit Reloaded wirelessly, read our article for a complete tutorial.
2)Purchase a Wireless Android Auto adapter
You can purchase a cheap Android Auto adapter that connects to your tablet via USB. The way it works is quite simple. You connect your phone to the adapter, either wirelessly or via USB, and the dongle will relay that information to the Tablet via an app. I’ve attached an Amazon link to one of these adapters.
For both options, if you opt to use USB for connectivity, you’ll notice that once you make the connection, there is no way to charge the phone or the tablet. This is inconvenient during long drives or when one of the devices is low on charge.
To solve this, use a three-way OTG USB cable. Click the link below to view the item.
Use an app like Tasker to automate the whole experience. For example, you could set that your tablet opens the Android Auto app (in this case Headunit Reloaded or the adapter app) when certain conditions are met.
Once everything is set up and running, you’ll want to connect the Amazon Fire 7 tablet with the car’s speakers via Bluetooth. You can use an AUX cable, though Bluetooth will provide a better experience.
However, if your car is old and doesn’t have Bluetooth, there are inexpensive adapters that plug into the AUX port of your car, adding full Bluetooth functionality.
Advantages of using a tablet as a car head unit
- Larger display: Tablets typically have larger screens than traditional car head units, making it easier to see and interact with navigation, music, and other apps.
- Customization: With a tablet, you can choose which apps to install and customize the user interface to your liking.
- Cost-effective: Tablets can be a more affordable option than purchasing a dedicated car head unit.
- Versatility: In addition to functioning as a car head unit, a tablet can also be used for other purposes outside of the car.
- Upgradable: Tablets can be upgraded with the latest software and hardware, making it easier to stay up-to-date with the latest technology.
- Portability: If the tablet is detachable, it can be taken out of the car and used on the go.
- Better connectivity: Many tablets come with built-in Wi-Fi or cellular connectivity, which can allow for more robust streaming options and faster app updates.
- More app choices: Tablets have access to a wider range of apps than traditional car head units, which can include social media, email, and other productivity tools.
- Touchscreen interface: Tablets typically have a more intuitive and responsive touchscreen interface than traditional car head units.
- Enhanced entertainment options: A tablet can provide a wider range of entertainment options, such as movies, TV shows, and games, to help pass the time on long drives.
Disadvantages of using a tablet as a car head unit
- Mounting and power: Tablets are not designed for use in a car, so additional accessories may be needed for mounting and power.
- Distraction: A tablet’s larger screen and increased functionality could be a potential distraction to drivers, which can affect driving safety.
- Overheating: Tablets can overheat in extreme temperatures, which can cause performance issues or even damage the device.
- Limited audio features: While some tablets may have improved audio quality, they may not have the same audio features as traditional car head units, such as equalization or time alignment.
- Security: Leaving a tablet in the car could make it a target for theft, and if stolen, any personal or sensitive data could be compromised.
- Integration with the car: Tablets may not integrate as well with the car’s existing audio or control systems as a traditional car head unit would.
- Compatibility: Some apps or features that are designed for car head units may not work as well or be compatible with a tablet, limiting its functionality.
- Visibility: Depending on the location of the tablet in the car, glare or reflections could make the screen difficult to see in certain lighting conditions.
- Driver ergonomics: The placement of the tablet may not be as ergonomic for the driver as a traditional car head unit, and could cause discomfort or strain during use.
- Limited durability: Tablets may not be as durable as traditional car head units, and could be more susceptible to damage from rough roads or vibrations.
- Battery life: If the tablet is not connected to a power source, battery life may be limited, and the device could run out of power during longer drives.
- Compatibility with accessories: Some accessories, such as steering wheel controls or backup cameras, may not work with a tablet-based car head unit.
Is the Amazon Fire 7 a viable option as a car head unit?
Yes, getting one of these tablets second-hand for under $40 is one of the most inexpensive methods to get Android Auto on an older vehicle.
Additionally, this tablet usually goes on sale, so I’ve attached a link to an Amazon listing.