What To Expect From Apple Car Play and Android Auto

Jun 27, 2016 by Cedric (Driver Weekly)

More and more people are using their phones to play music in the car instead of the radio or native infotainment system. In response, more automakers are offering Apple CarPlay and Android Auto to attract customers and improve the driving experience. However, these systems are still relatively new, and you may not know what to expect. Discover whether or not Apple CarPlay and Android Auto would be useful for your vehicle.

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At first glance, the two programs are incredibly similar with the main difference being the type of smartphone that connects to the car. As their names imply, Apple CarPlay works with iPhones and Android Auto works with Android smartphones. Whether you use Apple CarPlay or Android Audio, both apps connect to your infotainment system and replicates the computing environment, images, and functions of your smartphone right on the car display. In other words, you can access the same functions on the smartphone via your car’s touchscreen.

Interface Arrangements

Despite their basic similarities, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto will give you very different setups on your display. Apple CarPlay has the familiar app grid that you see on Apple devices. This system is just a much larger version of your touchscreen with large icons that you can hit easily. There are a few changes, one being that the status bar is mounted on the side of the screen, and the home button is displayed on the touchscreen itself. Android Auto, on the other hand, relies on a tabbed interface that shows you various functions. Looking at Android Auto on your car touchscreen, you wouldn’t necessarily see how it was inspired by your smartphone. The Android Auto system has five sections with a notification panel acting as a home screen. Looking at this page will show you recent messages and calls, weather information, navigation directions, suggested locations for navigation, and your current song.

Navigating in the System

While Apple CarPlay is a bit easier to get used to than Android Auto since you already know how to use it, Android Auto is intuitive and much easier to navigate. That is because, with Apple CarPlay, you will have to go back to the home screen by pressing a button before moving onto another task. With Android Auto, however, the bottom bar listing the function tabs always appears on the screen so you can immediately select the area you want.

Listening to Music

Either program will let you listen to music from your phone, but Apple CarPlay makes it easier, which shouldn’t come as a surprise given Apple’s experience with iTunes and iPods. You can browse by album, playlist, song, and artist just like you would on any other device. On Android Auto, Google Play Music lets you use playlists or your queue, but you can’t browse for a specific song. However, Android Auto has an advantage in that you can pause music right on the home screen.

It takes time to implement major changes to the infotainment systems in popular cars and while some of them are better than others, you might still prefer the familiar interface on your smartphone. However, this depends on what phone you have and whether or not your car is compatible with the apps. If you can use one of the apps, you can keep your phone out of your hands, play music from your personal library, and avoid the infotainment system which can be clumsy and unappealing.

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