Android Auto and Apple CarPlay: what’s the difference?

Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are, in short, the same systems, which you control with either a phone with Android (Google) or iOS (Apple). This way you can also use the functionalities of your smartphone behind the wheel. You can read here what the differences are and how the systems work exactly.

How does Android Auto work?

Android Auto only works in combination with a phone that has the correct software. Phones with the Google operating system with versions 6 to 9 require the Android Auto app, from Android 10 the function is built-in as standard. The system is in fact an extension of your smartphone. After you connect the phone – wirelessly or with a cable – the familiar Android interface is shown on your car’s screen.

The Netherlands had to wait a long time for the arrival of Android Auto. The system has been fully available since March 2021.

How does Apple CarPlay work?

Apple CarPlay only works with all iPhones that are at least equipped with iOS 7 or a newer version of Apple’s phone operating system. In practice, Apple CarPlay works with all models from the iPhone 5, including affordable models such as the iPhone SE.

Unlike Android Auto, Apple CarPlay is always built into the smartphone; you don’t need a special app. Connection can be done wirelessly or with a cable. Once connected, your car’s screen shows the familiar Apple interface. Apple CarPlay has been available in the Netherlands since 2014.

CarPlay by night Kia Sportage 2022

Which cars are Android Auto and Apple CarPlay available on?

Android Auto and Apple CarPlay have been on cars for about a decade, but it won’t be until 2016 that the systems are systematically installed in their cars by car manufacturers. Nowadays the systems are usually installed as standard. If you are looking for a used car from after 2014, it is useful to check whether it has Android Auto or Apple CarPlay – and in what form. A wired system is common on early models, but wireless is slowly but surely taking over.

Both Apple as Google have a list of which models have the system. The list has grown quite a bit and covers a lot second-hand cars as the MG ZS and Toyota RAV4. Apple CarPlay can now be found on more than 800 models, Android Auto on more than 500 models.

What features do Android Auto and Apple CarPlay have?

Android Auto and Apple CarPlay have been developed to implement the functionalities of your phone in your car, so that you can use it safely behind the wheel. It is therefore no surprise that the systems have largely the same functionalities. Depending on the Android or iOS version you use, the functionalities may vary. For example, not all versions have voice control. Below is an overview of the options:

  • Navigate, view maps and plan routes
  • Call, look up contacts
  • Read and send messages
  • Listen to music, audiobooks and podcasts
  • View agenda
Carlinkit Tbox Plus

Differences between Android Auto and Apple CarPlay

The differences between Android Auto and Apple CarPlay mainly lie in the degree of personalization. Where Google offers the option to customize the dashboard to your heart’s content, with Apple you are virtually stuck with a predetermined, but super sleek design that works seamlessly. In both cases you can see the apps in a row, but a split view is also possible.

In addition, the number of third-party apps with Apple CarPlay is limited compared to Android Auto. This is because Apple does not allow all apps to be used in the car. In both cases, the range of apps is sufficient and you can install apps such as Flitsmeister, TomTom, Google Maps and Waze. That is very useful, since Apple CarPlay uses Apple Maps as standard and Android Auto of course uses Google Maps. You can also use the latter with CarPlay.

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