With the age old war of Google vs Apple continuing to rage on the battles of Carplay vs Android Auto are just starting to heat up. Having a vested interest in both formats to succeed in their area I might have a relatively unbiased opinion and I’m willing to dive in to run you guys through the differences and similarities of both. First up, full disclosure just so we’re above board here: I run Android Auto in my car, my partner on the other hand runs CarPlay and I spend the majority of my days fitting Apple CarPlay to my client’s cars. I will say though, if you are deciding what phone to buy depending on “Is CarPlay or Android Auto better?” you’re looking at it the wrong way.
You see both of these platforms have been created with “familiarity” in mind. They want each UI to be intuitive enough that if you own an iPhone you instinctively know how to use CarPlay, whereas if you own an Android phone, Android Auto just makes sense. It’s not a competition between CarPlay and Android Auto because both are making sure that if you own their product (and you drive a car) you want to use their in-car platform as well.
Apple and Google have both focussed on 4 key areas for their product, namely navigation, hands-free phone functionality, messaging and music. They have made major decisions based on these focus areas. They biggest one to date was Apple’s inclusion of Google’s mapping systems Google Maps and Waze. It was an admitted loss for the Apple purists but at the same time it made sure a major void was filled in their 4-point system, Google Maps is the unchallengeable champion when it comes to reliable mapping systems. So now Google Maps and Waze is available on both platforms. Along with them is the necessary Music section with Spotify and other music streaming apps taking it upon themselves to make their app viable for CarPlay and Android Auto. You would be hard pressed to find a popular music streaming platform that doesn’t cater to this niche. As well as that you have Messaging platforms for various apps. Whether you are a CarPlay or Android Auto user both cater heavily towards this focus area as well as the all important hands-free calling function.
I’ll move past the obvious and jump into the nitty gritty details of the two. Apple Maps isn’t available for Android Auto users which no-one is too bothered about I’m sure, but it’s the subtleties that really make the difference. The voice control feature “Google Assistant” tends to be more information orientated and Apple’s “Siri” is geared towards personalisation. Apple users can currently enjoy a universal wireless connection between their phone and their car so plugging in a data cable is no longer necessary. CarPlay’s new home screen displays slightly more detailed information from a variety of active apps and Android Auto works with a wide range of brands of phones from budget to luxury. What is probably the most anticipated is that Apple’s CarPlay is geared towards ease of use and user personalisation. Apple fans can head into the CarPlay menu of their phones and easily change around their home screen icons and make it theirs. For Android users it’s a bit different but once you get into the modification area for Android Auto you’ll find a much deeper and intricate settings area that goes far beyond what Apple allows.
Like I said, if you use Apple, CarPlay will work for you. If you use Android, it’s counterpart Android Auto is the go-to. Both will allow you to easily and intuitively utilise your phone in your car seamlessly and legally to it’s fullest potential. In a battle between CarPlay vs Android Auto there will never be a winner between the two, yet both of the creators will constantly be striving for better integration for the real winner, the end users.