Apple CarPlay vs Android Auto: Which One is Better?

Apple CarPlay vs Android Auto: Which One is Better?

The Apple CarPlay vs Android Auto discussion is an extension of the longstanding and heated iPhone vs Android debate. These two provide a solution for pairing a smartphone with the infotainment system of a particular vehicle. However, based on their branding alone, the former is an exclusive feature for the iPhone while the latter is restricted to Android devices. This article compared which between Apple CarPlay and Android Auto is better.

A Definitive Comparison: Apple CarPlay vs Android Auto

1. Notable Features

Both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto allow a particular and compatible smartphone to connect to the supported dashboard information and entertainment or infotainment system of a vehicle via either a wired connection or wireless connection. The two mirror and cast some of the content of the smartphone to the display screen of the vehicle and allow the infotainment system to access selected apps and features or functionalities. Think of these two as a smart TV console or digital media player that converts a conventional television set into a smart TV set.

2. Specific Compatibility

However, despite having the same general features, the main difference between Apple CarPlay and Android Auto is that the former is available on iPhone devices starting from iPhone 5 and iOS version 7.1 and the latter works on an Android smartphone or tablet starting from Android Oreo 8.0. It is worth mentioning that CarPlay is not available on other devices such as the iPad and Apple Watch. There is also a wide range of vehicle manufacturers that support the two. Android Auto has wider support because it is part of the Open Automotive Alliance.

3. User Interface

Both feature a user interface that is vehicle-centric. This means a clean and straightforward design aimed at reducing distraction. However, between the two, Apple CarPlay has a simpler and cleaner user interface with little room for customization and a focus on ease of use. Android Auto also has a simple user interface but it is more customizable and a little bit more complex. A driver or user can add widgets and use themes. There is also an app drawer that makes it resemble an Android tablet. It also supports split-screen and has quick access to notifications.

4. App Support

Remember that both allow mirroring and casting of apps and features or functionalities to the compatible infotainment system of a vehicle. However, when it comes to the selection of supported apps, Apple CarPlay has a limited selection of Apple-approved curated apps. Android Auto has a larger number of supported apps that include standard Google and Android apps and other apps from third parties. It is still worth mentioning that iPhone apps from Apple have better and more seamless integration than apps third-party apps for the Android operating system.

5. Navigation Options

Apple CarPlay uses Apple Maps by default for navigation. However, because it also supports some navigation apps from third parties, a driver or user can choose other navigation apps such as Google Maps and Waze. Android Auto supports Google Maps by default but it also supports Waze and other third-party navigation apps. Both Apple Maps and Google Maps are decent navigation apps. The former has also improved significantly. However, because Android Auto has wider third-party app support, it provides drivers or users with more navigation options.

6. Voice Assistant

Another important point of comparison around the Apple CarPlay vs Android Auto discussion is their respective speech recognition technologies. Both support hands-free user interfacing via voice commands. The former uses Siri and works well with apps from Apple but might struggle to understand instructions from third-party apps. The latter uses Google Assistant. Hence, between Siri and Google Assistant, the latter is more versatile, integrates well with third-party apps, and can access information from various sources beyond a particular Android device.

7. Technical Issues

Both work well in most cases. However, in several reported instances and even reviews, the two also suffer from some technical issues. There are times when both wired and wireless connections tend to fail and would require an app restart or reestablishing connection. The responsiveness of the two also depends on the capabilities of the connection smartphone. This means that newer phones with better hardware specifications would perform well. Android devices that are older or slower might experience more technical glitches and noticeable performance lags.

Takeaways: Comparing Apple CarPlay and Android Auto

The Apple CarPlay vs Android Auto choice is pretty simple. Users or owners of iPhone devices have no choice but to use the former because the latter is not available on iOS. The same is true for users or owners of Android smartphones and tablets. Both are decent interfacing protocols that let users mirror and cast selected smartphone content on the infotainment systems of their vehicles. However, considering that neither of the two is universal, it is important to check first if the vehicle supports either. Some automakers have their own operating systems. Consider Tesla Motors as an example. General Motors has also dropped support for Apple CarPlay. Other vehicles have older infotainment systems. Enabling Apple CarPlay and Android Auto would require purchasing and installing an after-market infotainment system or head units.