Android Auto vs Apple CarPlay: the 2018 Comparison13 min read

Android Auto vs Apple CarPlay: the 2018 Comparison13 min read

24/08/2018 2 By Vasyl Tsyktor

Despite some vehicle manufacturers offer their own in-car media systems, drivers can deploy either Apple CarPlay or Android Auto in their cars. While the choice between these two solutions is not a question for those who have a single smartphone and not considering to purchase a new mobile device, owners of both iOS- and Android-based smartphones can benefit from our comparison. By learning the advantages and disadvantages of each system, you can choose the most suitable solution for your car.

What is Apple CarPlay and Android Auto?

Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are both mobile apps that can be either installed on the in-car infotainment (also known as in-vehicle entertainment) system, or run on mobile devices connected to the in-car multimedia system in order to play audio content like music or sound notifications via vehicle-based speakers and provide visual content on the display of the in-car entertainment systems.

 

If an outdated in-car infotainment system (ICIS) has only a CD/MP3 player or/and radio and doesn’t have a suitable screen for displaying visual navigation information, then Android Auto and Apple CarPlay can play audio content via the in-car stereo system while showing visual information on a smartphone display. Mobile devices can be connected to in-car infotainment systems via USB or Bluetooth. In the latter case, a Bluetooth transmitter should be connected to the ICIS via the AUX output.

Features

Android Auto and Apple CarPlay make using a wide range of useful functions easier and even safer compared to built-in multimedia systems. According to a research by AAA Foundation, solutions from Google and Apple are less demanding than native infotainment systems. The research shows that, with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, drivers can answer and initiate phone calls by 24% faster as well as navigation programming is 31% faster compared to built-in ICISs.

 

Features of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto:

  • Navigation
  • Running certain mobile applications
  • Calls
  • Music
  • Messages
  • Web surfing
  • Notifications

 

Drivers can control the solutions from Apple and Google using buttons on a steering wheel, touchscreen, or the voice assistant. In this article, we will compare these two systems by a set of characteristics including some of the above-mentioned features.

The Apple CarPlay vs Android Auto comparison


In-car infotainment systems from Apple and Google are rising in their popularity. Many modern drivers prefer purchasing cars that support these solutions. According to a report by Strategy Analytics, 30% of U.S. car owners suppose that Android Auto is a must-have for modern vehicles and 23% believe that Apple CarPlay is an inherent part of new cars. Which system is better? Read our Apple CarPlay vs Android Auto comparison to sort things out.

Availability

Apple CarPlay first appeared on the market in March 2014. Google developers presented Android Auto almost a year later. First, a limited number of car brands supported some of the systems, but, over time, the solutions became available in a half of new cars sold in the first quarter of 2018 across the U.S and Europe.

 

According to a research by Canalys, 52% of new cars in the U.S. and 42% in Europe support Android Auto or/and Apple CarPlay. The most active adopters of these in-car infotainment systems among car manufacturers are Ford, GM, PSA Group (Peugeot, Citroen, and Opel also known as Vauxhall), Honda, and Volkswagen. The research agency notes that most car brands support both Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. This approach allows car manufacturers to attract fans of Android and iOS devices.

Cars with Android Auto or Apple Carplay

Vehicles compatible with Android Auto:

  • Acura: MDX 2018, NSX 2017, TLX 2018
  • Alfa Romeo: Giulia 2018, Giulietta 2017, MiTo 2017, Stelvio 2018
  • Aston Martin: Rapide 2018, Vanquish 2018, Vantage 2018
  • Audi: A3, A4, A5, A6, A7, A8 2017, Q2, Q5, Q7 2017, R8 2017, TT 2017-
  • Cadillac: ATS 2016,CT6 2016, CTS 2016, ELR 2016, Escalade 2016, XT5 2017, XTS 2016
  • Chrysler: 300 2017, Pacifica 2018-
  • Citroen: Berlingo 2018, C-Elysée 2017, C3, C4 2017, Jumpy 2017, Space Tourer 2017-
  • Fiat: 500, 500L, 500X 2017, Argo 2017, Tipo 2017-
  • Ford: C-MAX 2017, Edge 2017, Escape 2017, Everest 2017, Expedition 2017, Explorer 2017, F-150 2017, Flex 2017, Focus 2017, Fusion 2017, Galaxy 2017, Kuga 2017, Mondeo 2017, Mustang 2017, Ranger 2017, S-MAX 2017, Super Duty 2017, Taurus 2017, Tourneo Connect 2017, Transit 2017, Transit Connect 2017, Vignale 2017.
  • Honda: Accord 2016, Civic 2016, Clarity Fuel Cell 2017, CR-V 2017, Fit 2018, Free 2017, Odyssey 2018, Pilot 2017, Ridgeline 2017.
  • Hyundai: Avante 2017, Azera 2015, Creta 2016, Elantra 2017, Elantra GT 2016, Genesis 2015, Grand i10 2016, Grandeur 2015, i10 2016, i20 2016, i30 2016, i40 2016, Ioniq Electric 2016, Ioniq Hybrid 2016, Ioniq Plug-in Hybrid 2016, Kona 2017, Maxcruz 2017, Santa Fe 2017-, Sonata 2015, Tucson 2016, Veloster 2017
  • KIA: Cadenza 2017, Carens 2017, Carnival  2015, Cee’d 2017, Forte 2017, Forte Koup 2017, Forte 5 2017, K3  2017, K5 2015, K7 2017, Morning 2018, Niro 2017, Optima 2015, Picanto 2018, Pride 2018, Rio 2018, Rondo 2017, Sedona 2015, Sorento 2016, Soul 2014, Soul EV 2015, Sportage 2017, Stinger 2018, Stonic 2018.
  • Mercedes-Benz: A-,B-,C-, E-, S-, G-Class 2017-2018
  • Mitsubishi Motors: ASX, Delica, Mirage, Outlander 2017, Pajero 2016.
  • Volkswagen: Golf 2017, Arteon, Atlas 2018, Beetle 2016, Jetta 2016, Passat 2016, Polo 2016, Scirocco, Tiguan 2016, Touareg 2018.
  • Volvo: XC90, S90, V90 2017, XC60, XC 40 2018.

You can check a full list of Android Auto compatible cars on the official website.

 

Vehicles compatible with Apple CarPlay:

  • Acura: MDX 2018, NSX 2017, TLX 2018
  • Alfa Romeo: Giulia 2018, Stelvio 2018
  • Aston Martin: Rapide 2018, Vanquish 2018, Vantage 2018, DB9 Volante 2017
  • Audi: A3, A4, A5, A6, A7, A8 2017, Q2, Q5, Q7, Q8 2017, R8 2017, TT 2017
  • BMW: 2-, 3-, 4-, 5-, 6-, 7-Series 2017, X1, X2, X3, X4, X5, X6, 2017, i3.
  • Cadillac: ATS 2016,CT6 2016, CTS 2016, ELR 2016, Escalade 2016, XT5 2017, XTS 2016
  • Chrysler: 300 2017, Pacifica 2018-
  • Citroen: Berlingo 2018, C-Elysée 2017, C3, C4 2017, Jumpy 2017, Space Tourer 2017-
  • Fiat: 500, 500L, 500X 2017, Argo 2017, Tipo 2017-
  • Ford: C-MAX 2017, Edge 2017, Escape 2017, Everest 2017, Expedition 2017, Explorer 2017, F-150 2017, Flex 2017, Focus 2017, Fusion 2017, Galaxy 2017, Kuga 2017, Mondeo 2017, Mustang 2017, Ranger 2017, S-MAX 2017, Super Duty 2017, Taurus 2017, Tourneo Connect 2017, Transit 2017, Transit Connect 2017, Vignale 2017.
  • Honda: Accord 2016, Civic 2016, CR-V 2017, Fit 2018, Odyssey 2018, Pilot 2017, Ridgeline 2017.
  • Hyundai: Avante 2017, Azera 2015, Creta 2016, Elantra 2017, Elantra GT 2016, Genesis 2015, Grand i10 2016, Grandeur 2015, i10 2016, i20 2016, i30 2016, i40 2016, Ioniq Electric 2016, Ioniq Hybrid 2016, Ioniq Plug-in Hybrid 2016, Kona 2017, Maxcruz 2017, Santa Fe 2017-, Sonata 2015, Tucson 2016, Veloster 2017
  • KIA: Cadenza 2017, Carens 2017, Carnival  2015, Cee’d 2017, Forte 2017, Forte Koup 2017, Forte 5 2017, K3  2017, K5 2015, K7 2017, Morning 2018, Niro 2017, Optima 2015, Picanto 2018, Pride 2018, Rio 2018, Rondo 2017, Sedona 2015, Sorento 2016, Soul 2014, Soul EV 2015, Sportage 2017, Stinger 2018, Stonic 2018
  • Lexus: ES, LC, LS, RC, UX 2019
  • Mercedes-Benz: A-,B-,C-, E-, S-, G-Class 2017-2018
  • Mitsubishi Motors: ASX, Delica, Mirage, Outlander 2017, Pajero 2016
  • Porsche: 718, 911, Panamera, Macan, Cayenne 2017
  • Toyota: Avalon, Corolla Hatchback, RAV4 2019
  • Volkswagen: Golf 2017, Arteon, Atlas 2018, Beetle 2016, Jetta 2016, Passat 2016, Polo 2016, Scirocco, Tiguan 2016, Touareg 2018.
  • Volvo: XC90, S90, V90 2017, XC60, XC 40 2018

You can check a full list of Apple CarPlay compatible cars on the official Apple website.

Countries

Unlike Apple CarPlay, Android Auto is available only in a limited number of countries. Furthermore, this app can be unavailable in some regions of supported countries,

Installation

Apple CarPlay Audi

To use Android Auto, you should first download it from Google Play. When it comes to the product from Apple, iPhones have the app pre-installed. Besides your native in-car infotainment system, you can use Apple CarPlay and Android Auto with a third-party ICIS like Pioneer Nex or Parrot RNB6.

Connection

Both solutions can be connected to an in-car infotainment system via a cable or Bluetooth. Android Auto requests confirmation everytime you connect it to your car while CarPlay automatically synchronizes with your ICIS.

The standby screen

Both solutions block a display of a smartphone once it connects to a car. The Android Auto standby screen has key options similar to Android-based mobile devices while the CarPlay standby screen shows installed apps similar to iPhones.

Switching between applications

When it comes to Android Auto, there’s a list of recently used apps at the bottom of the screen. If you click twice on the icon of one of recently used apps, the app will show you a list of available ones. Carplay has a list of recently used apps on left bar with. The screen also shows time, signal level, and the exit button that leads to the main screen.

Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatible apps

Apps compatible with Android Auto:

  • Scout FM
  • Facebook Messenger
  • WhatsApp
  • Waze
  • Skype
  • Kik
  • Hangouts
  • Telegram
  • VLC Player
  • Google Maps
  • Google Play Music
  • Radio Paradise

You can view a full list of compatible apps on the Google Play Market web page.

 

Apps compatible with Apple CarPlay:

  • Podcasts
  • iHeartRadio
  • WhatsApp
  • Spotify
  • Pandora
  • Amazon Music
  • Google Play Music
  • Apple Maps
  • Facebook Messenger
  • iMessage

You can view a full list of compatible music apps on the official Apple’s website.

Interface

Apple CarPlay interface

The two systems use different approaches to their user interface. Android Auto seems to strive to simplify the mobile interface, although some design aspects remain the same. At the bottom of the screen, you will see a horizontal navigation bar. This is unlike the operating system on mobile devices that typically has only three buttons on the panel, but Android Auto has five tabs.

 

With the tabs, you can proceed to the navigation app, calls, home screen, music, and applications. Third-party apps can be situated in separate tabs. The home screen works with Google Now to provide timely updates on routes and weather. Auto can even check your email to provide you with a route to the meeting destination or airport. Double-clicking the audio button shows all compatible audio applications in the form of a map.

 

CarPlay looks like iOS even though it has some design changes. Apple immediately learns how it looks. In fact, this is an expanded version of the iOS home screen with square app icons and a Home button. CarPlay is multifunctional and app-oriented. Navigation through the menu is smooth. However, the Apple system doesn’t provide useful real-time updates, unlike Android Auto.

Navigation

Unfortunately neither Android Auto nor CarPlay is as advanced as high-end GPS devices Garmin. None of them displays speed in the application and shows the location of high-speed cameras or radars.

 

Android Auto uses Google Maps to provide navigation information. Thus, it allows you to get real-time reports about the road condition and choose the fastest route to your destination. You can control navigation using voice commands. However, the app doesn’t always recognize them properly.

 

The Google Maps app provides the excellent navigation accuracy. The solution automatically recognizes the language set on the phone and plays voice navigation prompts in the same language. With Google Maps, drivers share their location thus allowing the app to indicate traffic jams. However, the solution can’t re-route in the case of the absent Internet connection. That’s why you should drive carefully to avoid missing your turn occasionally.

 

Furthermore, you can use Waze instead of Google Maps. This is another navigation app owned by Google and it’s similar to the original solution. The main advantage of Waze over Google Maps is that it shows police checkpoints, speed camera, and even car accidents on the map.

 

In addition, if you use Waze on your smartphone and then connect it to the car, you won’t need to enter your destination again. The app will continue leading your way on Google Auto. However, you can face some difficulties when using Waze on your in-car infotainment system if it doesn’t have a touchscreen. For example, you can’t exit the screen after clicking on the red button to put a destination point.

 

When it comes to CarPlay, it uses Apple Maps. In fact, this is the main drawback of this infotainment system. Apple Maps don’t get that frequent updates compared to Google Maps that’s why you will hardly get timely notifications about a traffic jam further on the road. Furthermore, they’re less detailed than Google’s analog. Apple Maps don’t show houses. The app also requires the Internet connection to show routes.l

 

Until June 4, 2018, drivers couldn’t use Google Maps or any other third-party navigation app in Apple CarPlay even if they had them already installed on their smartphones. However, at WWDC, the company announced that mobile devices based on iOS 12 would now support any third-party navigation app including Google Maps and Waze.

Voice control

Both companies strive to make controlling in-car infotainment systems safer by providing drivers with a capability to enter destinations, change a radio channel, or make a call using voice commands. Thus, drivers avoid the need for looking at a display instead of keeping an eye on the road.

 

To control Android Auto including navigation and third-party music apps like Spotify, you can use the “OK, Google” voice command. Apple’s solution uses Siri. Like Google, you can use it to navigate through the CarPlay system. Both systems also allow you to dictate messages using your voice, but CarPlay supports only Apple’s native app by default while Android Auto works with WhatsApp, Skype, Telegram, Hangouts, etc.

Calls

One of the best safety features that both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto provide is that they allow drivers to receive calls in a hands-free manner as well as make calls using voice commands. If you talk a lot on the phone, both in-car infotainment systems will come in useful. It’s worth noting that making calls with voice commands works fine in both systems.

 

Both in-car solutions work well in cases where you need to call a person whom you have multiple phone numbers for in your list of contacts. Android Auto and Apple CarPlay efficiently recognize a requested contact, identify multiple numbers, and ask which number exactly you want to dial.

Messaging

Both in-car infotainment systems are good at reading messages and responding to them. The solutions accurately recognize a voice, so you can easily dictate your message and a recipient will get the text you’ve pronounced. However, Apple CarPlay supports only iMessage and WhatsApp, unlike Android Auto that supports a wide range of messaging apps including Skype, Telegram, and WeChat.

Notifications

Both in-car infotainment systems display notifications. You may not interact with incoming notification so that they remain in the background. When it comes to displaying notifications, both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto work similar to corresponding mobile operating systems. Traditionally, Apple’s solution displays notification badges on apps icons while Google’s system a scrollable list of all notifications on the bottom of the screen. Thus, you can easily swipe away unnecessary notifications.

Music

Both systems support a wide range of third-party music apps besides their original Google Play Music and Apple Music. This makes both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto equally good at playing music. Android Auto supports Spotify, Google Play Music, Deezer, TuneIn Radio, Slacker Radio, BeyondPod, Audiobooks.com, Player FM, Amazon Music, and Audible. CarPlay offers Spotify, Apple Music, Stitcher, Overcast, iHeartRadio, Pandora, and more. You can check out the Spotify vs Apple Music comparison to learn more details about music streaming apps.

Final thoughts

Apple CarPlay vs Android Auto
Feature/System Android Auto Apple CarPlay
Availability + +
Installation + +
Connection +
Standby screen + +
Switching between apps +
Interface +
Navigation +
Voice control + +
Calls + +
Messaging + +
Notifications +
Music +


Many car brands turn towards deploying infotainment software from Google and Apple thus saving money on the development of their own systems and providing drivers with high-quality services that include music and navigation. However,
Toyota refuses to implement Google Auto in their cars because of privacy concerns.

 

The number of cars supporting Apple CarPlay and Android Auto is continuously growing. Most new car models are likely to have one of these infotainment systems or even both in a few years. According to a report by Business Insider, nearly all new cars launching connected vehicle services will support these solutions. This includes 40 million cars with Android Auto and 37.1 million with CarPlay. It forms approximately a 52% and 48% market share respectively.

 

When it comes to the Android Auto vs. Apple Carplay real-world test, both systems are much better than most native in-car infotainment systems. However, while Apple’s solution is good at music services with its Apple Music, Google’s product provides more detailed GPS navigation with traffic jams and frequent updates.

 

Since both systems now provide access to third-party apps, you can easily download and install the application that better meet your requirements compared to original solutions. That’s why there’s no need for choosing a smartphone taking into account the capabilities of the in-car entertainment software.