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MirrorLink™ — smartphone connectivity

An overview of one form of smartphone integration

Heads up!

Welcome to this article from the Crutchfield archives. Have fun reading it, but be aware that the information may be outdated and links may be broken.

If you’re like most people these days, you’ve made your smartphone your source for… well, pretty much everything. You store music on it, do things like get directions with it, and sometimes even make phone calls with it. So it’s only natural that you’d want to tap into it when you’re on the road.

MirrorLink diagram

With your phone connected and its MirrorLink friendly app launced, you’ll see its interface replicated on your receiver's screen. That’s your gateway to functions like your music, app-based GPS, and Bluetooth functionality.

It's easy for car electronics manufacturers to develop hardware and software that'll help their stereos connect to and control your iPhone® — there's only one platform they need to worry about.

Working with Android™ and other non-Apple phones presents a much greater challenge. With so many hardware and software platforms to contend with, it's been impossible to develop one simple solution for in-dash control.

To help solve this problem, nearly 100 electronics, phone, and vehicle manufacturers joined together to form the Car Connectivity Constortium. The goal: to create an industry-standardized system to provide in-car control over a wide range of smartphones using a wide range of stereo systems. The result: MirrorLink.

Your smartphone, your receiver, and MirrorLink — working in perfect 3-part harmony

MirrorLink is designed to provide easy-to-use in-dash control over compatible smartphones. The system needs three elements to do its thing: a compatible in-dash receiver, a compatible smartphone, and an app that works with MirrorLink. The system works like this:

  • Download the app (prices vary) to your compatible phone. Launching the app provides a simplified graphical interface that’s ideal for use in the car, because it's easy to see at a glance, and much easier to use.
  • Connect your phone to the receiver. This can sometimes require a special cable or interface.
  • Launch the app on your phone, and tap the MirrorLink icon in the receiver’s source menu. The optimized carmode menu will appear on your receiver’s screen.

And that’s it. You’re ready to rock. You’ll be able to use your in-dash receiver to access the music stored on your phone, engage select navigation apps, and more. You’ll also be able to use your receiver's hands-free calling, if it has Bluetooth® connectivity built in. MirrorLink even offers up the “menu,” “home,” and “back” buttons you’re used to using.

Android Auto — another form of Android integration

Android Auto is a newer, more popular form of car stereo integration for Android users. It's similar to MirrorLink, but it's more widely available on new car stereos. Learn more in our article about Android Auto. Then you can check out our selection of car stereos that work with Android Auto

What about Apple devices?

Apple devices (iPhones, iPads, and iPod touch) do not work with MirrorLink. That's because most stereos already work with Apple devices via the USB cable. More advanced receivers (those with touchscreens) offer Apple CarPlay™ as a way of interfacing with your iOS device. Read our article about Apple CarPlay to learn more, then look for car stereos with Apple CarPlay.

So, will my phone and receiver work with MirrorLink?

The Car Connectivity Consortium is currently working with its members to certify phones and receivers for use with MirrorLink. While the MirrorLink system has been in use in certain factory stereos in Europe, it hasn't quite become the standard in our country. The list of compatible U.S.-based receivers and smartphones keeps growing — you can search for MirrorLink compatible products on MirrorLink's website.

  • Zack from Glenview

    Posted on 5/31/2018

    Can I upload pics on radio to use as backrpund displays?

  • Commenter image

    Alexander Hrabe from Crutchfield

    Posted on 12/28/2017

    Danny, I've passed your question along to an Advisor to help you find the best solution. Generally, you'll find Android Auto to provide the best options for current smartphones and continued support for the interface.

  • danny flynn from Gresham

    Posted on 12/26/2017

    which is better, mirror link or android auto??? And will mirror link allow me to navigate any app on my phone?

  • Alex Rodriguez from San Antonio

    Posted on 11/13/2017

    the problem that you guys have, is that you are trying to keep the car stereo alive. I just want a continuation of my phone. I want a one device that does everything. I use to use and HTC One M8 and a pioneer radio, with mirror link I managed to have my whole phone screen on the car monitor. Thats what i love about it. It was an unstable connection but it was better than Android auto. Plus with that phone I didn't need remote controls for the Tv, vcr I could even controls my friends apple tv, the tv at the doctors office. That was the life. Forcing people to use android auto, a funky navigation app. is like putting people inside a box. I hate it. it seems that the only option i got is to duck-tape my tablet to the dashboard. I only use my car speakers, because many functions of the car stereo are blocked while you drive. Theres not even a passenger override, I think is more unsafe to be fighting with your car estereo, other than give the user what he wants right the way. How long I have to wait to get a decent device. Now of days I use a Samsung S8 plus. love the phone now I just need a radio that meets my expectations.

  • K.subash from Erode

    Posted on 8/19/2017

    I have vivo v5 it will support

  • Phil from Birmingham

    Posted on 9/24/2016

    I purchased an LG G4 phone thinking that it would work with Mirrorlink in my 2016 Subaru Outback. Looking at the Mirrorlink page showing phones supported I did realize that only certain models of the LG G4 were supported not the LG G4 H811 (T-Mobile). Silly me.

  • Commenter image

    Alexander Hrabe from Crutchfield

    Posted on 7/25/2016

    Scott, your receiver will remain active when you have the MirrorLink function engaged. Functionality may vary depending on your brand-specific MirrorLink app, but think of the receiver as boss when your phone is connected. If you're considering purchasing a new receiver with Android integration, be sure to take a look at those with Android Auto as well.

  • Scott from Topeka

    Posted on 7/22/2016

    Will the mirror link still show up on the headunit even if the phone screen has been turned off or if its went black from not being used.. Or will the phone screen have to be on at all times foe it to be displayed?

  • Commenter image

    Alexander Hrabe from Crutchfield

    Posted on 6/13/2016

    Raf, no. The purpose of MirrorLink is to mirror compatible apps from your Android device onto the screen of your touchscreen receiver. Not vice versa. The idea being that you'd be able to use something like your phone's navigation app in your dash.

  • Raf from Altus/OK

    Posted on 6/12/2016

    Hi if I install an in-dash DVD player with a mirror link capability in my car, will I be able to use it to project a DVD on a Samsung tablet at the back seat for my little kid (wireless) ? Thanks

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