Android Auto vs Apple Carplay

Apple and Android systems have developed their respective answer to the rise of internal infotainment software.

This article will cover:

  • How both systems work;
  • How they compare;
  • Issues with distraction;
  • What apps are available.

What is Apple CarPlay?

Apple CarPlay is an integrated software system that links to your car's infotainment system. It is possible to operate CarPlay via your car's current interfaces (the knobs, buttons, and touchscreen). You may choose to control these through Siri’s voice commands.

Apple CarPlay can make calls for you, read out text messages, and offer driving directions. It is also possible to stream audiobooks, weather reports. The service can even notify you of places of interest along your routes, such as a place to eat or a petrol station.

What Is Android Auto?

Android Auto is available for people who own smartphones with the Android operating system. It allows drivers to access the entertainment and navigation systems that exist on their phones, all while limiting distractions.

It most commonly uses Bluetooth or a wired connection to link to your car’s onboard systems. Android Auto utilises larger than regular icons, and only displays icons that are deemed less distracting, it also can use Google Assistant for voice commands.

Apple CarPlay vs Android Auto

The primary difference besides the apps that are available on each respective system is that Android Auto doesn’t need an inbuilt infotainment system to connect. Instead, there are navigation controls on your phone which you directly operate through Google Maps or other applications. Apple CarPlay needs to be connected to the car. This is a significant advantage for Android Auto, but as many manufacturers update their systems, they may add Apple compatibility.

How to Use Apple CarPlay

For many vehicles, you can simply plug the iPhone in by a USB port. Then you’ll receive a message asking if you want to allow connection with Apple CarPlay while the phone is locked. After you agree, you can control the systems available by your car's infotainment screen and other controls.

In some vehicles, you can connect the phone wirelessly through Bluetooth, and in other models, you can access Siri by control on the steering wheel.

When connected through CarPlay, the car's touch screen replicates those on the phone, allowing for a more familiar and easy-to-use layout. You can either use the touchscreen or voice commands unless your car is not voice command enabled.

How to Use Android Auto

As a general rule, there are two ways to connect Android Auto while you are driving:

  • Physical connection via a USB cable and port;
  • Open the application and control it directly from the phone touchscreen.

When you connect through a cable, you will see a popup message asking you to enable Android Auto. When you select allow, you can control the system through the Android phone.

You can also use Google Assistant for voice commands, and this allows you easy use of the system without needing to touch the device, which may save you a hefty fine! In some newer vehicles you can activate Google Assistant with buttons on the steering wheel, or by speaking the phrase, ‘Okay Google’ ( or the term you have selected) if audio commands are enabled.

When Android Auto is connected, the icons on your touchscreen will replicate those on your phone. This makes it easier for drivers to find and use apps, reducing distractions.

Are These Apps Distracting?

Apple and Android designed their services to limit distractions and promote driver safety.

In Apple CarPlay some applications are not available, and when the phone is connected, the phone remains locked until it is disconnected. A few of the apps that are locked include video playback, such as YouTube - although YouTube Music remains active.

Android Auto works similarly by allowing the use of voice commands. Most apps are turned off, including video playback and games. Many apps do remain functional, and you are still able to receive calls and text messages, but if you need to control other features of the car’s systems, such as climate control, you may need to exit the application.

For both of these apps, it is best to get used to how they operate while the car is stationary, and see if it suits your desired driving experience.

What Apps are Available?

With Apple, many apps are available to be used through CarPlay, especially those that can enhance the driver experience. As a standard, you can use Apple Maps & Apple Music, and there are many third-party apps available, some of these include:

  • Google Play Music
  • Waze Navigation
  • Amazon Music
  • Pandora
  • WhatsApp
  • Spotify

The benefit of Android Auto is that it allows access to specific apps without the need to use the cars infotainment systems. You generally use the phones touchscreen or voice commands to use apps and have access to the standard audio functions, such as podcasts, music, and audiobooks. Other apps available include:

  • Skype - video only
  • iHeart Radio
  • Pandora
  • Spotify
  • Waze Navigation
  • Google Maps