Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you have probably noticed the increasing scope of smartphone integration into automotive infotainment systems. Vehicle manufacturers want your smartphone to accompany your time in the driver’s seat. Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are the two mobile goliaths in the automotive space, but what’s the difference between the two? And how do they compare to the standard in-vehicle infotainment options?

Apple CarPlay and Android Auto

Both programs do essentially the same thing: project or mirror applications from your smartphone onto your vehicle’s infotainment system. Both have similar functions including phone, music, maps, podcasts, news, audiobooks, calendar, a virtual assistant, and any other third-party apps supported by the platform. The main difference is obvious: Android Auto is designed for Android users and CarPlay is designed for Apple iPhone users.

Apple CarPlay is compatible with iPhone 5 and newer. CarPlay is built into your iPhone’s iOS, so you don’t need to worry about clearing up storage to add another app. Android Auto works with most phones that operate off of Android 6 or newer. Phones with Android 9 or older have to download and install the Android Auto app. Android Auto is included with Android 10 and beyond.

Not all vehicles connect to these programs through Bluetooth, although most new cars do. However, both Android Auto and Apple CarPlay can be connected to the vehicle by a USB port.

There are only slight differences between the two systems and most complaints are related to usability and stability. As with any new technology, there are bound to be bugs. Both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are solid options for drivers looking for a safer way to stay connected while driving. Die-hard fans of both Apple and Android will be satisfied with their respective infotainment system.

Built-In Infotainment Systems

Just like Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, in-vehicle infotainment systems deliver entertainment and information to drivers through audio and video interfaces. There are a variety of infotainment system features such as touch screens, smartphone pairing, tuners for multi-standard radio reception, multimedia support, and advanced vehicle functions like parking assistance, climate controls, and voice assistants.

So, how do these systems compare? One major difference is the expense. In many built-in infotainment systems, a subscription or expensive software updates are required for real-time data. CarPlay and Android Auto, however, are connected to the Internet through your smartphone and feature up-to-date data.

Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are also more customizable than many built-in systems. Both systems allow users to customize the dashboard to suit their needs, which cannot be said for many in-vehicle systems.

Unlike CarPlay and Android Auto, in-vehicle infotainment systems are vastly different and opinions of each vary. Car shoppers must research differences between various cars’ built-in infotainment systems since each one offers different features and capabilities. One advantage of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto is that they are consistent across every model, so drivers know exactly what they’re getting no matter which brand of vehicle they choose.

Deciding between these two systems is largely dependent on which phone you prefer. Both systems are effective, convenient, and easy to use. They may have some downfalls, but the technology is young and maturing fast. We expect both programs to be a standard feature on vehicles in the future. In-vehicle infotainment systems are complex and vary from brand to brand; many brands are moving away from traditional systems and featuring Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, or both. Whether you’re a loyal iPhone user or a die-hard Android fan, you can trust that your infotainment system will deliver.

Ultimately, the choice between Apple CarPlay and Android Auto likely comes down to personal preference…just like car buying itself. Try finding your vehicle with OneRequest. Or, if you’d like one of our automotive geniuses to find it for you, give OneRequest Concierge a shot.