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Apple CarPlay vs Android Auto – A Simple Comparison

Apple CarPlay vs Android Auto


Car buyers are increasingly hooked to their smartphones, making car smartphone integration a vital feature in the latest vehicles. Google’s Android Auto and Apple’s Apple CarPlay are leading the segment, so we’re pitting the two popular car software systems against each other in today’s edition of Tech Tip Tuesday. We’ll dig into the functionality, navigation, music streaming, voice commands, messaging, compatibility, and apps of Apple CarPlay vs Android Auto.


Apple CarPlay

Only iPhones are compatible with Apple’s software. Compatible iPhones include iPhone 5s, 5c, 5, 6, and 6 Plus. To use an older iPhone, the phone must have a Lightning connector, rather than the old 30-pin connector. It must also have the latest iOS installed.

Android Auto

Any smartphone running Android 5.0 Lollipop or higher can be installed into Android Auto.

Both systems are available with almost all 2016 and 2017 vehicles from major car manufacturers. See the available models for Apple CarPlay or the available models for Android Auto.

Home Screen & Basic Functionality

Apple CarPlay

Like all Apple products, Apple CarPlay follows the successful model of simplicity, ease of use, and exclusivity. The home screen is reminiscent of an iPhone, iPad, etc. CarPlay has a home screen with a few of your favorite apps under large, vibrant buttons.

The system can be controlled via touch, or using knobs, dials, and buttons around the screen. Notifications (like a new text message), will drop down temporarily like they do on the iPhone. Notifications you don’t open turn into a small red circle in the upper right part of the screen with the number of missed notifications. It’s a relatively simple system that will be enjoyed and loved by most Apple fans.

apple carplay home screen

Android Auto

Android places its major functions along the bottom of the screen. Useful information like messages, directions, and weather updates are displayed via cards (pictured below). These notifications are automatically updated using Google Now. Those familiar with Android will feel at home using this system.

Android Auto is still relatively simple, too. It excels in offering shortcuts to a few of the most useful functions without passing by the home screen every time.

android auto cards


Apple CarPlay

Using Apple Maps, Apple CarPlay can give you turn-by-turn navigation. The system can also predict your next location based on your emails, contacts, texts, and calendars. The Nearby feature will help you find parking, restaurants, gas, and more.

apple carplay maps

Android Auto

Run by Google Maps, Android Auto offers crisp-looking maps, clear verbal and visual directions, alternative routes, and more. You can even see the hours of operation for a business you are traveling to. Working with Google Now, Android Auto can even suggest destinations for you, based on your past behavior. Most reviewers and users suggest that Android Auto is slightly better than Apple CarPlay.

android auto maps

Messaging & Calling

Apple CarPlay

Using Siri, drivers using CarPlay can send, read, and reply to texts via voice command. You can make calls, return calls, and listen to voicemails with voice commands. CarPlay is only compatible with Apple’s native app for messaging.

apple carplay phone call

Android Auto

Google offers more inclusivity, supporting many messaging apps such as Skype, Hangouts, Kik, WhatsApp, and more. Android Auto can also read, send, and reply to texts via simple voice command. Voice command can also be used to make phone calls.

android auto calling

Music & Audio Streaming

Apple CarPlay

Apple supports iTunes, Apple Music, Spotify, iHeart, and other major music apps. Apple Music can pick new songs, artists, and albums based on your music preferences.

apple carplay music

Android Auto

Android Auto supports Google Play, and other major 3rd party music apps like Spotify and iHeart. This software comes with 90 free days of Google Play Music, giving you unlimited and ad-free access to 30 million songs on demand.

android auto music

The Verdict – Apple Carplay vs Android Auto

When comparing Apple CarPlay vs Android Auto, the result is a photo finish. Both smartphone-to-car integration systems offer identical functions with different presentations. CarPlay is faithful to the Apple formula, excelling in simplicity and ease of use. However, CarPlay can be somewhat exclusive to 3rd party apps, and is only available for iPhones. Android Auto is more inclusive in terms of app and phone support, but has a slightly more complex (some might say more capable) layout of notifications and information.

In the end, most drivers will choose based on the type of phone in their pocket. Are you ready to buy a car with smartphone connectivity? Be sure to search Carsforsale.com to find the best deals on cars for sale near you.

Dustin "Dusty" Rhodes

A fan of nice round numbers and working on tiny European cars, Dusty is the proud owner of a '58 Lloyd 600, a '50 FIAT 500, and is currently on the hunt for a Vespa 400. And, despite all that repair work, he still finds time to write about cars. 

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