Android Auto vs Apple CarPlay: Differences & Which To Pick?

Android Auto vs Apple CarPlay - featured image

You can’t drive and operate your phone simultaneously without breaking traffic rules in many places.

The good news is software like Android Auto, and Apple CarPlay let you control your playlist while staying safe and compliant with traffic regulations.

But what are the main differences between Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, and which is the better option? 

The primary difference between Android Auto and Apple CarPlay is that the former works with Android devices while the latter works with iOS devices from Apple. Another difference is that Android Auto comes with a vertical scrolling interface, while CarPlay has a horizontally scrolling interface.

Google’s Android Auto and Apple’s CarPlay are the most popular car infotainment software platforms.

They enable you to focus on your driving without losing access to your phone. Read on to find out whether Android Auto or CarPlay is the better one for you.

Why Do You Need Android Auto or Carplay?

Whether for work or fun, smartphones are indispensable for most people. Many people keep their phones by their side while they drive to continue communications, check the weather, play music, and get the news

The problem is that taking your attention off the road, even for a few seconds to look at your phone, can be dangerous to you and other people on the road. 

This is where Android Auto and CarPlay come in. They project your phone’s apps on your car’s dashboard display, where you can access the content you want conveniently and safely while behind the wheel.

How Does Android Auto Work?

The software lets you see your phone’s apps on your car’s infotainment screen. That way, it enables you to respond to calls and texts without much distraction from your driving. It also lets you play music or get help with driving directions through the software. 

You can operate the Android Auto software with the touch of a button or through voice commands. Android Auto displays apps in round icons.

While the software now comes pre-installed in newer Android phones, those with older phones may need to download and install it on their devices to use it in their car. 

How Does Apple CarPlay Work?

wired carplay connection for comparison vs wireless carplay

CarPlay works similarly to Android Auto. It puts your iPhone apps in front of you on your car’s dashboard screen. As a result, you can make calls, send texts, play songs, and receive navigation route details from your phone without taking your attention from the road. 

CarPlay comes preinstalled on iPhones. The software displays CarPlay apps in square-like icons, which is one of its noticeable distinctions from Android Auto. Despite being an Apple environment, CarPlay works with various Android-made apps, such as Google Maps.

Android Auto vs Apple CarPlay: Differences and Similarities

Although Android Auto and CarPlay are largely similar in how they operate, they have several variations that might make one better than the other for different people. The choice between Android Auto and CarPlay is easy if you know what they offer. 

Let’s contrast the popular car infotainment software platforms on the most important features and functions:

Voice Assistant

siri reading apple carplay text notifications


Android Auto and CarPlay both have virtual assistants that allow you to operate them hands-free with voice commands. Android Auto uses Google Assistant,  while CarPlay uses Siri for voice controls.

You can make calls, reply to text messages, play music, and perform other actions through voice commands.

In voice assistant technology comparisons, Google Assistant generally ranks higher than Siri. It particularly excels in getting the correct context and delivering accurate answers to complex queries.

But Apple continues to improve its Siri assistant, and the software is getting better with every CarPlay update.

With all the latest advancements in AI, the hope is voice assistants will become much smarter!

siri no tomtom directions message

User Interface

carplay email speaking app on lock screen

When it comes to software tools such as Android Auto and CarPlay, the user interface is one of the features that get immediate attention. It’s also an important factor that can frustrate users.

CarPlay’s interface resembles iPad and iPhone screens. It has large icons that offer clear visibility. You scroll the CarPlay screen horizontally. Android Auto comes with a vertically scrolling interface similar to Android phones.

They are, however, very similar.

Wireless Capability

Wireless CarPlay - Phone

You may connect your phone to Android Auto or CarPlay through a USB cable or wirelessly

This vastly depends on the make or model of your car. If your car doesn’t have wireless connectivity natively, you can purchase a wireless CarPlay adapter or Andriod auto version to “hotfix” the connection.

But cable remains the standard connection method for these software. 

With Android Auto, in particular, the availability of wireless connection depends on your phone and car model. As a result, Android Auto wireless connectivity isn’t widely available yet. Moreover, you may notice your phone overheating when connected wirelessly to Android Auto, according to some users.

Software Stability

You may experience stability issues with both CarPlay and Andriod Auto. CarPlay rarely glitches, which can be attributed to Apple’s firm control over the development and testing of its products. 

On the other hand, Android Auto is more prone to crashing or freezing when some apps are running, though the platform is constantly updated to make it better.

Third-Party App Support

webex app logo on carplay lock screen

Android Auto and Apple’s CarPlay support third-party apps for various functions. For route navigation, you can use Google Maps on both Android Auto and CarPlay. For messaging and other communications, the platforms offer various third-party apps, including WhatsApp and even Zoom.

For music and podcasts, CarPlay supports Amazon Music, Spotify, Deezer, and many more CarPlay music apps. Android Auto supports these third-party music and podcast apps as well. Android generally has a broader selection of third-party apps than CarPlay.

These platforms allow you to customize the list of apps you want to access on your car’s dashboard screen. You can also arrange the lineup of the apps alphabetically or create a custom order by dragging the apps around.

Compatibility With Cars and Phones

Most modern cars come with inbuilt support for both Android Auto and CarPlay. For older car models, you may need extra software and actions to connect your device to the platforms.

CarPlay supports devices running iOS 7 and above, with iPhones 5 and onwards. CarPlay will already be downloaded. Android Auto supports devices running Android 6 and above. For devices running Android 10 and above, you don’t need to download and install separate software to use Android Auto (Just like apple).

Final Thought – Is Android Auto Better Than CarPlay?

You might wonder what’s the best platform to use between Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. Since these platforms work similarly, the choice comes down to your preference. 

Those who are familiar with the iPhone and iPad will find CarPlay easier to work with. Similarly, Android Auto will be familiar to those used to Android devices. But just pick whichever works with your phone.

Auto has more options and features, while CarPlay delivers a more streamlined experience.

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I loved my car but was frustrated with my media system. So I upgraded my stereo, making silly wires and precarious phone mounts a thing of the past. The Apple Car Play stereo was so good I wanted to show more people how this could be done and truly upgrade their cars multimedia system! Founder
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