EC Offroad CarPlay Solutions For 2016+ 200 Series LC (NEW SEPT 2020 MODEL) (2 Viewers)

greynolds

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I'll download several versions of Netflix later today when I either take a break from work or am done for the day and get back to you, but yeah the file sizes definitely need to match.

Assuming the APK file is good, I'm pretty sure you should be able to either tap it or press and hold to get an option to install the APK file in the Files browser app, but I'll double check that as well. This may be one of the reasons I installed an alternative file browser, to get one that has a feature for installing APK files. I just looked through the list of apps that are listed as "my apps" in the Play store as I can get to that list on my PC and I have definitely installed ES File Manager and have been happy with it so far, though recent reviews seem to be saying that the number of ads has gotten out of control.

You may also need to go into settings and allow installation of apps that didn't come from the Play store (these steps are from a Google search, so they may be slightly different on our units):
  • Go to the Android Settings page.
  • Tap Security.
  • Check the box next to Unknown Sources: Allow installation of apps from sources other than the Play Store.
  • Tap OK to confirm this change.
I don't recall if this was enabled by default or if I had to enable this.

My plan is to download a version from roughly every 6 months and work my way backwards until I find one that installs and (hopefully) works. The older the version the more likely it's going to stop working due to changes in the Netflix streaming service at some point.
 

greynolds

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I just installed a recent version of the Netflix app on mine without any problem. Here's a link to the exact APK file I used:

Netflix 7-66-0-build-19

After installing it, I was able to login to my Netflix account and start playing something.

I used the app that shows up with a name of "Files" in my app list, which I believe is that ES File Manager app I mentioned. I just had to select the USB drive, find the APK file in the list, and tap on the file to initiate the install. After it installed, I started the Netflix app, entered my login info, and was all set.
 
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greynolds

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And here's what the APK files look like in the native Files browser app - now that I look at them, they're nowhere near as large as when I downloaded them, so maybe that's part of the problem, but still doesn't explain where to find them within APK.

View attachment 2582913
Did you have any luck getting Netflix to install? Given my result, I would definitely go with the newer version I used as it makes sense to go with the newest version that works. I think the above screenshot is the same file app I was using, so you should be able to just tap on the APK file you want and get prompted to install it. If you're still running into problems, let me know. We could even try doing something like Facetime or a Zoom call with the video pointing to the EC unit's screen if you think it would help; I'm not doing anything exciting this long weekend, so I could definitely make some time available to help if you need it. You're right though that the files sizes appear to be incorrect.

I'm going to send Michael an email with my wish list items from the first post and hope that some of them will be taken seriously by the manufacturer. I'm inclined to think they're all reasonable requests, most should be easy to implement, and none of them are USA specific issues.
 

greynolds

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Thanks for posting the Netflix version Geoff. I’ll try to update mine next week.
You're welcome. There's a good chance you could go with an even newer version that I installed, but either way you'll end up with something much newer. It looks like the link I posted isn't a good one, so I'll try to fix that.

The link is now fixed.
 
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Did you have any luck getting Netflix to install? Given my result, I would definitely go with the newer version I used as it makes sense to go with the newest version that works. I think the above screenshot is the same file app I was using, so you should be able to just tap on the APK file you want and get prompted to install it. If you're still running into problems, let me know. We could even try doing something like Facetime or a Zoom call with the video pointing to the EC unit's screen if you think it would help; I'm not doing anything exciting this long weekend, so I could definitely make some time available to help if you need it. You're right though that the files sizes appear to be incorrect.

I'm going to send Michael an email with my wish list items from the first post and hope that some of them will be taken seriously by the manufacturer. I'm inclined to think they're all reasonable requests, most should be easy to implement, and none of them are USA specific issues.

Sorry for the delay, been on the road, but GOOD NEWS - I have been able to install some apps after logging out of the Play Store and logging back in under a different user account. I installed Prime Video, Gaia GPS and successfully updated Chrome. Will install Torque Pro later today. I think my work email (built on Google Business Suite) must have some higher levels of security than this more basic Gmail account.

Thanks for the link to that Netflix APKM, I'll download it. I still have not been able to get any apps to install from the external USB drive, so I don't have Netflix installed. I can see the files in that Files app, but still getting error message from the APK Mirror Installer when I click on them and select it as the installer. I've tried different drive formats - FAT32, ex-FAT, and downloading to the drive both on my Mac and with Windows 10 to see what might work. Can you tell me your pathway - Mac vs Windows, what drive format? I assume if I can see the files in the Files app, I should be in good shape, but it's possible downloading in one OS vs the other could have an effect. Would like to emulate your exact procedure so I take some of those variables off the table as issues.

Thank you for the Facetime offer, I'm definitely up for that Sunday afternoon if it works for you. Will PM you about that.
 

greynolds

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Sorry for the delay, been on the road, but GOOD NEWS - I have been able to install some apps after logging out of the Play Store and logging back in under a different user account. I installed Prime Video, Gaia GPS and successfully updated Chrome. Will install Torque Pro later today. I think my work email (built on Google Business Suite) must have some higher levels of security than this more basic Gmail account.

Thanks for the link to that Netflix APKM, I'll download it. I still have not been able to get any apps to install from the external USB drive, so I don't have Netflix installed. I can see the files in that Files app, but still getting error message from the APK Mirror Installer when I click on them and select it as the installer. I've tried different drive formats - FAT32, ex-FAT, and downloading to the drive both on my Mac and with Windows 10 to see what might work. Can you tell me your pathway - Mac vs Windows, what drive format? I assume if I can see the files in the Files app, I should be in good shape, but it's possible downloading in one OS vs the other could have an effect. Would like to emulate your exact procedure so I take some of those variables off the table as issues.

Thank you for the Facetime offer, I'm definitely up for that Sunday afternoon if it works for you. Will PM you about that.
That makes sense on the business vs personal account.

I'm using Windows 10 and Firefox on the PC side of things. On the USB drive side, I'm using a SD card with an NTFS partition in a USB 3.0 SD card reader. It looks like your USB drive is getting recognized just fine, so I doubt there's an issue with your USB drive. When I installed Netflix yesterday, I had downloaded a couple of APKM files as well as the APK file I linked above. The APKM files would not prompt me for installation, only the APK file did. I didn't know what APKM files are until a few minutes ago, but apparently the format allows for the Play Store to do more efficient downloads (only get the parts that are needed for the specific device) and need to be installed with a special app (Split APKs Installer and it sounds like the APK Mirror Installer app can also install them). So if you happen to have a need to install an APKM file, make sure you install that app from the Play store.

The Netflix APK file I did install is 57MB in size, so you would want to verify that it shows up as about that size (it may report as 56MB depending on what calculation is being used for MB as some use 1000 bytes while others use 1024 bytes).

It sounds like 1 potentially big difference in our workflows is your mention of selecting the APK Mirror Installer as the installer - I don't have the APK Mirror Installer app installed. When I tap on the file in ES File Manager I'm simply presented with the option to install it (there's no mention of any app, I assume it's just using the device's native installer). So I would suggest trying a combination of downloading the APK file I provided the link to and perhaps uninstalling the APK Mirror Installer app and see how that goes.
 
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Hello everyone, Apologies in advance if i have hijacked the thread or posted in the wrong area no offence taken should Mods move this somewhere else. I installed the latest interface recently V4 i think to a 2019 Sahara and since then i have been reading all the posts here to work through some issues. Unfortunately i,m not impressed with the overall functionally of the EC offroad interface much less the installation instructions, none the less i have endured and am now some what satisfied. I think my biggest hurdle was getting my head around the OS and system settings of android as NO instructions were provided and any contact with the supplier was vague at best.

My two main problems at the moment are (1) that there is no bluetooth connection to android so my battery monitors and TMPS cant be connected to the screen and (2) for life of of me i'cant seem to separate the rear screen (which the grand kids use frequently) video and audio from the front screen and speakers, the OEM system separates front from rear so driver and rear passengers can watch and listen to different music/video. If any one has a work around i would really appreciate some ideas.

Thanks every one for the information provided in your posts.
 
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I'm using Windows 10 and Firefox on the PC side of things. On the USB drive side, I'm using a SD card with an NTFS partition in a USB 3.0 SD card reader. It looks like your USB drive is getting recognized just fine, so I doubt there's an issue with your USB drive. When I installed Netflix yesterday, I had downloaded a couple of APKM files as well as the APK file I linked above. The APKM files would not prompt me for installation, only the APK file did. I didn't know what APKM files are until a few minutes ago, but apparently the format allows for the Play Store to do more efficient downloads (only get the parts that are needed for the specific device) and need to be installed with a special app (Split APKs Installer and it sounds like the APK Mirror Installer app can also install them). So if you happen to have a need to install an APKM file, make sure you install that app from the Play store.

The Netflix APK file I did install is 57MB in size, so you would want to verify that it shows up as about that size (it may report as 56MB depending on what calculation is being used for MB as some use 1000 bytes while others use 1024 bytes).

It sounds like 1 potentially big difference in our workflows is your mention of selecting the APK Mirror Installer as the installer - I don't have the APK Mirror Installer app installed. When I tap on the file in ES File Manager I'm simply presented with the option to install it (there's no mention of any app, I assume it's just using the device's native installer). So I would suggest trying a combination of downloading the APK file I provided the link to and perhaps uninstalling the APK Mirror Installer app and see how that goes.

Finally got this to work, thanks for your help! I changed several variables so it’s hard to say exactly what worked:

- reformatted the thumb drive to NTFS

- downloaded the APK file you sent directly to the drive within a Windows 10 environment instead of Mac OS

- used the native package installer instead of APK Mirror Installer

I also installed another app I downloaded from the APK Mirror.
 
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greynolds

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Hello everyone, Apologies in advance if i have hijacked the thread or posted in the wrong area no offence taken should Mods move this somewhere else. I installed the latest interface recently V4 i think to a 2019 Sahara and since then i have been reading all the posts here to work through some issues. Unfortunately i,m not impressed with the overall functionally of the EC offroad interface much less the installation instructions, none the less i have endured and am now some what satisfied. I think my biggest hurdle was getting my head around the OS and system settings of android as NO instructions were provided and any contact with the supplier was vague at best.

My two main problems at the moment are (1) that there is no bluetooth connection to android so my battery monitors and TMPS cant be connected to the screen and (2) for life of of me i'cant seem to separate the rear screen (which the grand kids use frequently) video and audio from the front screen and speakers, the OEM system separates front from rear so driver and rear passengers can watch and listen to different music/video. If any one has a work around i would really appreciate some ideas.

Thanks every one for the information provided in your posts.
First off, welcome to IH8MUD as I see this is your first post. Your post is definitely on topic and welcome in this thread, so don't worry about that.

Based on your listed location and mention of a Sahara edition, I'm guessing you're in Australia, That at least gives you a bit of a leg up over those of us here in the USA when it comes to support from EC Offroad, but as you've found, they're support isn't exactly the best out there. The bright side is that they do tend to respond, at least. The install instructions are pretty terrible, but that's unfortunately typical for this sort of thing as the installs are intended more for professional car audio installers rather than DIYers like us. It sounds like you got through that part OK though.

Now to your main problems.

The first is the lack of availability of Bluetooth for anything other than wireless Apple CarPlay. Unfortunately, that's an intentional design choice they made. They decided to dedicate the Bluetooth module in the Android unit to Apple CarPlay use to ensure that nothing else interferes with CarPlay running smoothly. I actually had a somewhat heated email exchange with Michael from EC Offroad last night (for me, during the day for him...) about this and a few other wish list items - I'll elaborate more below in a separate post. So this means you can't use any Bluetooth devices like battery monitors, TPMS sensors, OBDII readers, keyboards, etc. with this unit. I tried connecting an older USB Bluetooth dongle into one of the USB ports a few months ago to see if the device would recognize a 2nd Bluetooth module without any luck. It's always possible that it was a simple case of no driver being available for the one I tried, but I don't want to buy a bunch of random dongles hoping that 1 will work as I suspect the odds of success are pretty low. So I'm sorry to say that unless you can find a way to get your Bluetooth devices to work via CarPlay or Android Auto through connections to your smartphone, you're probably out of luck. If you can find equivalent modules that connect through WiFi rather than Bluetooth, that might work, but keep in mind that you can't have wireless CarPlay AND another WiFi connection live at the same time on the Android unit.

That said, the Zlink app that drives Apple CarPlay and Android Auto functionality is supposed to also support screen mirroring from a connected smartphone. So it might be possible to run your battery monitor and TPMS apps on your smartphone and then use screen mirroring to see it on the Land Cruiser screen. I haven't played around with the screen mirroring functionality at all, so I have no idea what sort of issues and limitations might exist. But perhaps it's worth experimenting with.

For your second issue, I don't have the rear screens in my Heritage Edition LC, but my understanding is that this EC Offroad unit doesn't support the notion of separate zones, so the HDMI output that goes to the rear will show the same thing you're looking at on the front screen. The only option that might help a bit would be to listen to music on the factory infotainment while playing a video in the back off of the EC unit. The other guys with rear screens will probably respond with any additional info and correct me if what I said is wrong.
 

greynolds

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Regarding my email exchange with Michael. I sent him an email with a tweaked version of the wish list from the first post (I mostly rearranged the list in what I felt was the priority order). There were also some general comments in my email praising the overall stability of the Gen4 units compared to the Gen3 units, so my email wasn't simply voicing complaints and requests):
  1. The number 1 request is to add a config option to boot to the factory infotainment mode. Everyone seems to want this either for trips to the dealer for service or for when lending the car to a spouse and that sort of thing.
  2. Add a setup option that allows a user selected app to be launched when the Audio button is pressed, currently it is hard coded to launch the preinstalled audio app, which has a pretty terrible user interface. I would think this would be really easy for them to add.
  3. Enable Bluetooth to be used for devices other just for CarPlay. It would be nice to be able to pair a Bluetooth keyboard or OBDII module to the unit and the unit clearly has a Bluetooth module built in.
  4. Make it easier to disable zlink from automatically starting every time the unit boots, if desired
  5. Configure the WiFi to automatically connect to known WiFi access points when CarPlay isn't in use. Currently you have to go into the settings and turn the WiFi on every time. I'm assuming that connecting a USB 4G or 5G dongle would be a way around this as the unit would use the built in WiFi for CarPlay and then the USB connection for the Internet.
  6. At startup, the unit displays a car brand logo that randomly shows the Toyota or Lexus logo. It would be nice if there was a setting to select which logo is shown. I get confused when the screen tries to tell me I'm driving a Lexus :). This is most likely very easy to add, though accessing options during startup may be different than after the unit has booted.
Michael's initial responses to the above list:
  1. "a lot of work has gone into making boot like this as requested by many party’s as feed back. Hence the V4 does this. It is written into the hard code of the unit so we can’t change is you want that function we have the V3 that you have already had."
  2. "again won’t like this but you are literally the first person to ask all other feed back is they like it the way it is. So again at this stage won’t be writing new code for one unit sorry."
  3. "Bluethooth does not support OBD even if allowed, Please keep in mind these unit are manly designed around carplay and everything else 2nd. The V3 were more all-purpose unit."
  4. "This was covered above in the first item."
  5. "MAKE SURE YOU DON’T CONNECT A SIM DONGLE TO THE USB IT WILL CAUSE MANY ISSUES."
  6. "It is set but a small floor we are still working on LOL"
For the 1st item, I do strongly agree that 99.999% of the time I do want the unit to boot in Android mode. EXCEPT when I take the car to the dealer for service or potentially loan it to someone. In those cases, I would want to be able to temporarily have it boot into the factory infotainment mode and IMHO this is an important consideration. Again, this seems like such an obvious thing to include, but he wouldn't budge on this one.

For the 2nd item, we went back and forth on this over several emails and he eventually admitted that he really hasn't received ANY feedback on it other than mine. I pointed out that most likely people are using CarPlay or Android Auto primarily for music and might not even be tapping the audio button. He eventually caved and said he will try to get this added. They already have a configuration option for selecting the app that launches when the NAV button is pressed, so this one ought to be really simple to add. It's kind of a head scratcher that they didn't think of this when designing the unit.

For the 3rd item, he's flat out wrong about OBDII as there are OBDII Bluetooth modules available for exactly this sort of purpose (pairing with an iOS or Android device). But the bottom line is that OBDII was just an example of functionality people want to be able to use. They aren't going to enable use of Bluetooth for anything other than CarPlay, so the rest is moot.

For the 4th and 5th items, his stance is that the unit was designed primarily for CarPlay and anything else is a distant secondary. I'll address item 5 a bit more below.

So for the 6th item, I think he means it's a known issue that they're working on. So it will be nice if they fix this, but it's not exactly a huge win - it's purely cosmetic.

Now back to item 5, regarding connecting to USB dongles for Internet access while CarPlay is in use. I pushed him on this a bit, but didn't get super specific responses back other than "The issue is the unit see the dongle as a 2nd phone plugged in and causes carplay not to work. So only connect via wifi and power by other means." I may be wrong, but I'm pretty sure that I have seen someone claim using a 4G USB dongle with these units (maybe in an install video on YouTube) without any issues.

No usable Bluetooth (outside of wireless CarPlay) and the single WiFi connection (that is tied up when using CarPlay) make using the Android functionality a bit awkward. These units are so close to being great that it's frustrating... And I realize I'm spending way more energy on this than I should :), but since the pandemic situation limits how much excitement I can pursue lately, I figure I can channel some energy into this - even if we only get a few of the requests done, it will make the device better.
 

greynolds

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Finally got this to work, thanks for your help! I changed several variables so it’s hard to say exactly what worked:

- reformatted the thumb drive to NTFS

- downloaded the APK file you sent directly to the drive within a Windows 10 environment instead of Mac OS

- used the native package installer instead of APK Mirror Installer

I also installed another app I downloaded from the APK Mirror.
I'm glad to hear you're up and running now.

If the other app you downloaded and got working is something potentially useful to others, please share the details and I'll add it to the list of suggested apps in the first post. Given how we continue to find that some things work and some don't, it's useful to have a list of both to save other people time. It's also useful to see what other people are using as it may be something someone else hadn't thought of that turns out to be super useful.
 
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I'm glad to hear you're up and running now.

If the other app you downloaded and got working is something potentially useful to others, please share the details and I'll add it to the list of suggested apps in the first post. Given how we continue to find that some things work and some don't, it's useful to have a list of both to save other people time. It's also useful to see what other people are using as it may be something someone else hadn't thought of that turns out to be super useful.

the other app I installed was Disney+. I didn’t mention it because I’m sure it sounds like I just drive around streaming videos and movies all day. :) We are doing a lot more long road trips these day instead of flying, like driving with three kids from NC to southern CO, so having various preinstalled entertainment helps the drive across the flatlands go by faster.

Edited to add - this APK of Disney+ worked for me, was able to download an entire movie and play it back.
 
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DomSmith

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Geoff-

Thanks for all the info and your pursuits to get clarification and improved functionality with Michael. I appreciate it.

I definitely felt like the previous version had more options but it wasn’t stable enough to use without getting frustrated. I’ll take this one all day long, but if there are improvements to be had I’ll take them!

I will try updating Netflix and adding Disney+. Thanks @jwmNC.

I have the rear screens and have toyed with them a bit. I have been successful using the rear screens with the HDMI source providing content from the EC box. I then use the OEM system up front for XM or another source. I use a wireless mouse to have the backseat boss (my daughter) navigate EC while we’re on the OEM system up front. On occasion in Netflix the rear screen blacked out when navigating the Netflix menu in the back. Haven’t used it enough to know if it’s a consistent problem. I don’t think the EC box is a multi zone player like some home theater systems but Michael should be able to answer that.

My screen always says Toyota on startup.
 
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Could someone provide a summary of benefits/advantages (if any) of this unit vs. Naviplus if Carply is the only use case? (not interested in on-board Android apps)? Thanks.
 

greynolds

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Could someone provide a summary of benefits/advantages (if any) of this unit vs. Naviplus if Carply is the only use case? (not interested in on-board Android apps)? Thanks.
If you absolutely only care about CarPlay, the Naviplus should suit your needs and costs a fair amount less. And that’s something I pointed out to Michael at EC Offroad last night. The extra cost of the EC unit needs to be justified with the ability to use Android apps. So even though CarPlay and Android Auto and the primary features, they need to pay attention to the other stuff too.
 
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If you absolutely only care about CarPlay, the Naviplus should suit your needs and costs a fair amount less. And that’s something I pointed out to Michael at EC Offroad last night. The extra cost of the EC unit needs to be justified with the ability to use Android apps. So even though CarPlay and Android Auto and the primary features, they need to pay attention to the other stuff too.
Does the Naviplus have its own GPS antenna? If not, that’s a pretty big advantage because the dedicated external antenna should have better coverage than a cell phone. I haven’t had the chance to make a real world comparison though.
 

greynolds

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Does the Naviplus have its own GPS antenna? If not, that’s a pretty big advantage because the dedicated external antenna should have better coverage than a cell phone. I haven’t had the chance to make a real world comparison though.
I think it does, but it would probably make sense to check the specifics in the Naviplus thread. The only big disadvantage to going with the EC Offroad unit if functionality other than CarPlay isn’t desired would be the cost.
 
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I think it does, but it would probably make sense to check the specifics in the Naviplus thread. The only big disadvantage to going with the EC Offroad unit if functionality other than CarPlay isn’t desired would be the cost.

I do see external GPS discussed there.
 

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