What is MirrorLink? How does it work?

May 18, 2020 by

MirrorLink allows you to transfer whatever’s displayed on your smartphone to your car’s built-in infotainment system display. Once connected via USB cable or Bluetooth you can control a variety of apps using either a touchscreen, steering wheel-mounted controls or by voice activation.

What is MirrorLink?

MirrorLink is a system that connects a smartphone to a car’s built-in infotainment display. You connect your phone via USB cable or Bluetooth, press the MirrorLink button on your car’s display screen, and the screen then shows a facsimile of your phone’s home screen.

From there, you can then access your phone book and certain apps that are on your phone, via the car’s own controls. So, rather than touching your phone – which is illegal while driving in the UK – you simply touch the relevant icon on your car’s touchscreen, or navigate to it using the buttons on the steering wheel or dashboard. It works with voice activation too, if your car has that facility.

AndroidAuto and Apple CarPlay offer similar ‘smartphone mirroring’ functionality. It is worth noting that MirrorLink offers fewer functions but is arguably more reliable. Certain car manufacturers include it as standard in a car’s equipment or bundle it into an optional infotainment upgrade.

AndroidAuto and Apple CarPlay, on the other hand, are often separate options. However, more manufacturers are starting to include them as standard, or in optional infotainment upgrades, instead of offering MirrorLink.

What can MirrorLink do?

Compatible apps include Facebook, Twitter and Spotify. There are a host of others available, too, for social media, music, radio, podcasts, weather forecasts and navigation. There are even apps that help you find the nearest petrol station or parking space.

The availability of apps varies from country to country. And remember that not every app on your phone will be compatible with MirrorLink, so you may need to download additional apps for certain features that you want to use via MirrorLink. But, whatever you do, you won’t be able to watch videos or browse the internet via MirrorLink, as doing so is illegal.

Some car manufacturers have their own dedicated MirrorLink apps that record vehicle data and offer tips to improve your driving. So you can while away traffic jams by taking a deep dive into fuel economy, average speeds and dozens of other statistics. They also include lots of other useful features to help you make the most of your car. MirrorLink itself and a number of other developers offer similar apps. VW Group has also boosted its version of MirrorLink with a feature that reads messages and notifications aloud.

Cars with Android Auto

Which cars are compatible?

MirrorLink comes as standard in every car produced by VW Group brands SEAT, Skoda and Volkswagen. Citroen, DS, Peugeot and Smart also include it as standard in their cars.

Certain models of Honda, Kia, Suzuki, Toyota and the Mercedes A-Class also get MirrorLink. It is worth noting that MirrorLink did not come onto the market until 2012. It is now gradually losing favour as the cost of AndroidAuto and Apple CarPlay reduces to a point that manufacturers can include one or both of them as standard equipment.

An increasing number of manufacturers have also developed their own systems that do the same job as MirrorLink. Most car manufacturers tend to offer a range of smartphone compatibility possibilities in their cars.

So, if you have used MirrorLink in the past and want to stick with it in your new car, you will be able to find one that has it, even if it is not necessarily the manufacturer’s preferred option. All that being said, at the time of writing, you are probably more likely to find MirrorLink in a used car than a new one.

Which mobile devices are compatible?

MirrorLink’s software only works with smartphones running the Android operating system. It is not compatible with the iOS system used by Apple’s iPhones, or any of the others that are out there. Since nearly 90 percent of smartphones run Android, the chances are that your phone will sync with MirrorLink.

But bear in mind that, if your phone is significantly newer than your MirrorLink-equipped car, there may be compatibility issues that prevent you from using MirrorLink. It may be possible to update the system; a dealer should be able to tell you if it is possible and carry out the update.

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