Android Auto vs Apple CarPlay: An Honest Comparison

Futuristic self-driving cars may be making headlines these days, but since they are a distant reality companies like Google and Apple have come up with their own solutions for the present. Apple CarPlay and Google Auto are two apps that are compatible with some car interfaces to give you a better entertainment, navigation, and information experience while you’re driving.

How do the apps work?

In the face off of Android Auto vs Apple CarPlay there is no clear winner. Both apps are fairly new and have similar features. The main functions of each are the same, integrating your texting, calling, maps, and music player apps into a simplified version for your dashboard display. Connect your phone, launch the in-car app, and then switch over to controlling everything via the display dashboard. Bluetooth is used to enable phone calls and texting over voice commands.

Depending on whether you are using Android or Apple, you can control the system in a few different ways. With Apply CarPlay, Siri is in control of your voice command experience, helping your to make your way through the available apps and to request information without having to touch a single button. The Android system uses Google Voice to control those commands. Both systems allow you to control their apps through existing car buttons and knobs (only on compatible car models) as well as through touch screen interactions. You are purposely limited in what you can and can’t do with the touch screen, such as the inability to read or type messages on the dashboard display.

Benefits of using a smartphone in-car app

Both Android and Apple have the goal of making your drive safer. Instead of giving you unlimited access you might enjoy on your phone while driving, you will be given the basics and an easy way to control them without taking your eyes off the road. Here are a few of the main benefits to choosing one of these two apps:

  1. Personalized experience: These are your apps, your messages, your songs, your playlists, etc. No need to channel surf on the radio, just plug your phone in and you have control over your favourite tunes already.
  2. Zero access to your phone: While the app is running, you cannot use your actual phone for anything else and are forced to use the dashboard display. This will keep you from getting distracted by texting, scrolling through lists of songs or files, and third party apps.
  3. All-in-one access: Rather than buying a lot of separate gadgets and hooking them up to your car, these apps combine all the most useful things you could think of into one convenient interface.

Differences between Android Auto vs Apple CarPlay

No matter how similar the two apps may seem, both Apple and Android like to distinguish themselves in their own ways. Each app has its own advantages and disadvantages. Here are a few of the ways in which the two systems differ:

Third party app availability

Apple has always had a reputation of being more closed off towards third party participation, preferring to keep things mostly in-house. This tendency carries over to the CarPlay, where Apple has a much more limited selection of apps that can be used than Android Auto. Android has opened the system up to a larger selection, although not allowing every app to make itself compatible due to the problem of distractions while driving.

Voice command response

Android’s Google Voice seems to be a more useful companion in the car than Siri. In most cases it seems to be more accurate (especially while running official Google applications), and it has a larger variety of functions available with less delay. Siri relies on your cell phone’s coverage, causing it to take some delay time to give you your answers, directions, or anything else. Additionally, Siri has a bad habit of misinterpreting what you say, causing some frustration when trying to dictate a location for the Apple maps app to direct you to.

Interface style and usability

Apple CarPlay’s user interface features the same simple, easy to use style as all their other gadgets. While some people might find it too simple, it really is ideal for use in the car. You are shown enough app icons each screen to easily find what you’re looking for without scrolling too much, and each in-system app has been simplified to help your focus stay on the tarmac where it should be. Android Auto has a decent interface with different panels to show your apps, but the small amount of information displayed on each screen as well as the scrolling length restrictions make the user interface a little less friendly. You are not allowed to scroll down further than a certain point in any app, so if you the song you’re searching for is on the bottom of the list you may have to give a voice command to play it, because it might be impossible to scroll down and find that same song.


Google maps is well-known to be reliable, whereas Apple apps has not carried a very solid reputation due to a very bad launch. While it has improved over the years, Apple maps is still not quite as useful as Google maps when it comes to directions. The thing which Apple did well with their CarPlay navigation however is the placement of a small route thumbnail in the upper left corner of the screen when you go to another app screen. This provides a quick way to get back to the full-screen map as well as a reminder that the navigation system is active.

Operating systems and plug-ins

Unfortunately for those using older phones, both of these systems have certain requirements for use. Android Auto can only function on a phone running Android 5.0 Lollipop. Apple CarPlay only functions on the iPhone 5 and above (including 5c and 5s). Android Auto works through a regular USB plug-in, while CarPlay uses the standard Apple Lightning cable.


Apple and Google are always rivalling each other in the tech industry, so the battle of Android Auto vs Apple CarPlay is just another level on which they will compete. Car companies are not so picky about which they will allow, opting instead for new car models to be compatible with both in order to give all customers access to these features regardless of what type of phone they have. If you’re searching for an improvement on your in-car display without the distractions involved in mobile phone usage, one of these apps could be perfect for you. Keep a look out to see what vehicles will be enabled for the apps!

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8 Responses

  1. Jasmine2015 says:

    I think it is smart of car companies making their cars compatible with both Android and Apple. Being distracted by your phone whIle driving is dangerous and I’m glad things like Android Auto just might help in this area.

  2. Joshua says:

    It is great we have this things. All cars should be compatible to any phone Especially in the use for navigation and Bluetooth.

  3. Cara says:

    I really think that all car companies should make the vehicles that can connect to the phone that someone has. I believe that this would save from a lot of texting and driving. It would also make it easier for the driver to look up something if need be when they are driving as well.

  4. Arif says:

    I believe that all phones should be able to connect to the car to reduce texting and driving. While it could be distracting, it can be limited to use while stopped, or at least very limited use while it’s moving. Both android auto and apple carplay are very good in concept and design, the concept of not using your phone while driving is very very good. It’ll save many lives in the long run.

  5. troutman says:

    I prefer Apple CarPlay over Android Auto, but I feel like the latter has had less time to be perfected in development. Either way, both technologies come with glaring security issues, especially in cars that have these setups integrated by default. People have already been able to hack such hardware and software, so companies need to figure out how to secure these systems before hackers start wreaking havoc on vehicles.

  6. Tipes says:

    I think these apps are really neat, but I still can’t help but be worry about how I’ll be distracted. One reason maybe because I can’t seem how to use Siri. I also don’t think that cars company will have a problem with it at all. Rather, they will have a field day because that mean they will make more money. I’m personally more of an Android fan when it comes to phone, but when it comes to computer Apple would definitely be my first choice.

  7. Diane Lane says:

    I like the idea of being able to control some functions such as directions and the radio by using voice, since that doesn’t involve using hands, but I still worry that being able to do too much, even if it’s somewhat limited, can be dangerous. I prefer to set the devices aside, and focus on the road, the weather, and whatever is going on with nearby drivers, than being concerned about using apps and mobile devices. I’m not as worried about the vehicle being controlled via the mobile device by hackers, because with newer vehicles they can simply hack into the car’s computer to do that, although it could provide another route to that end.

  8. Gigglingbuns says:

    Ahh, another battle between Google and Apple, these are always fun to watch the battles develop. I love sometimes how far companies will go to prove they are superior. In the end one company will win, but the companies are interdependent as they get stronger through each other. One company would like to be better than the other and it goes back and forth. Additionally although self driving cars would be nice, they wouldn’t completely replace a driver, since a driver can have logic, but a computer can’t.

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