Android Auto and Apple CarPlay: Is One Better Than the Other?

Android Auto and Apple CarPlay: Is One Better Than the Other?

Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are the dominant phone projection applications for in-car use, but which one’s better?

For the most part, it’s not too crucial a comparison. Both devices are exclusive to their own platforms (Android Auto obviously only on Android and Apple CarPlay on iPhones), so whether you’re an Apple lover or a fan of Android, you’ll need to get used to whichever one you have.

But that doesn’t mean it’s unimportant. It’s features like this that could inform your next phone purchase and could persuade you to jump ship and go to another phone maker.

Let’s put both apps to the test.

Which is better: Apple CarPlay or Android Auto?

The same things that you’re probably used to between iOS and Android ring true for their car-based counterparts. Android Auto is more compatible with third-party applications, with more apps on offer in the Auto application, while Apple’s application is more locked-down, with a focus on Apple’s walled garden.

Both front-end apps have the things that you’d need in your car, including radio, maps, calling and music streaming, along with support for several other apps (including EV charging map apps).

The greatest difference between both of these front-end operating systems is the experience, and to figure out which one is ‘better’, you’d need to decide yourself. I prefer the look of Apple CarPlay, for example, and I think its navigation is a lot better, but it’s not enough to make me swear off being an Android user.

Both applications have advantages and disadvantages, such as ease of use, navigation, voice assistance, navigation and call assistance. They’re also both miles better than any of the non-Apple or non-Android front ends I’ve used recently.

Both applications also connect to your car through a wired connection as a standard, however, wireless compatibility for both apps is also limited from model to model, and it’s worth investigating if your car is compatible with this. You could also get a wireless dongle to enable connectivity.

Simple Alpaca has a great beginner’s guide to both front-end operating systems on YouTube. Here’s the Android Auto guide:

And here’s the Apple CarPlay guide:

Can I use Google Maps on Apple CarPlay?

Yes, you can use Google Maps in Apple CarPlay. There’s nothing stopping you from installing Google Maps on your iPhone and using the app via your car’s infotainment system.

Cars with Apple CarPlay support

Apple has a full list of the cars with Apple CarPlay support on its website, and Google similarly has a list of every car with Android Auto compatibility on the Android website. Note that some of these cars are unavailable in Australia.

Can I use Android Auto on iPhone?

No, Android Auto isn’t available on iPhone, nor is Apple Carplay available on Android.

These operating systems leverage your phone’s OS to function, and while cars may have support for both simultaneously, your phone’s OS is the key.

Whichever smartphone you go with guarantees the operating system you’ll be using. That is, unless…

What about Android Automotive?

Some cars going forward will have their entire operating systems built out of Android Auto, through a technically different application called Android Automotive (note the different name).

Android Automotive is not phone dependent and is an entire car operating system entirely. The Polestar 2, our favourite EV of 2022, was the first car to run Android Automotive and in my opinion it’s the best feeling car operating system I’ve ever used.

The best part is that Android Automotive doesn’t remove compatibility for Android Auto or Apple CarPlay — both of these will still work with your Android Automotive-running car.

Future Polestar vehicles will be running Android Automotive, but it’s also available in Volvo’s, Renault’s and BMW’s.

Can you use Android Auto and Apple CarPlay together?

Many cars have both Android Auto and Apple CarPlay support, but you’ll only be able to use one at a time. The car won’t lock the other out, but the screen will only allow one to be open at a time.

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