Apple CarPlay vs. Android Auto

Apple CarPlay

Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are latest developments in the evolution of automotive connectivity. Both applications pump a small portion of your phone’s functionality into your car’s built-in infotainment system.

These applications basically turn the infotainment system display into a second screen for your phone with easier touch navigation and a simplified command interface for safe, hands-free connectivity while driving.

With either setup, your car’s infotainment system screen will look very similar to your phone screen, but with larger icons and fewer available apps.

With so many consumers asking for Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, it is important that you know what they are, how they work, what vehicle models offer which system and the key differences between them.

Apple CarPlay

With Apple CarPlay, most vehicle configurations require a wired connection, while some cars support a wireless connection. Either way, once you connect your iPhone, you can start enjoying some of the key phone functions right on your infotainment screen.

CarPlay offers a host of features including navigation by Apple Maps, music through iTunes, hands-free calling, and the beloved Siri digital assistant. CarPlay also allows for sending messages through dictation, and reading received messages aloud.

In addition to vehicle hardware, Apple CarPlay requires an iPhone 5 or newer for compatibility, and it only works with iPhone, not iPad.

CarPlay is available on approximately 200 vehicle models across most major manufacturers, although there are some obvious gaps availability. If Apple CarPlay is a must-have, then you will be limited on which car you purchase, or you will need to install one of the many aftermarket solutions available.

CarPlay’s organization is very simple, just like iPhone. None of the menus are more than one-level deep. You can navigate almost anywhere in 1-2 taps of the screen. This is signature Apple and is one of the appeals of Apple products in general.

Android Auto

As with many comparisons between Apple and Android products, Android Auto seems to have the edge over Apple CarPlay in terms of flexibility and compatibility. Android Auto offers more available apps and is available in approximately 400 vehicle models, nearly twice the models offering CarPlay.

Similar to Apple Maps on CarPlay, Android Auto comes with Google Maps, hands-free text and call features, and Google-Now for a rewarding digital assistance experience. You can also stream music from a choice of 3 services: Spotify, Google Play Music, and iHeart Radio.

Android Auto is very intuitive, with Google Now displaying a live stream of information cards relative to your schedule, recent activities and other habits that Google thinks will be helpful. Google Maps is also a huge bonus, especially with navigation suggestion cards that pop up in Google Now.

Just be careful if you are trying to keep your phone activity private. Google Now can easily betray your secrets to other passengers in your car.

Android Auto works with any phone running Android Lollipop, but like Apple CarPlay, it does not work with tablets.


Inasmuch as Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are basically an extension of your phone, the choice comes down to which phone platform you prefer, and what model of vehicle offers your preferred platform. For some, the choice of vehicle will be more important and for others the choice of phone will be the decision maker.

Your job is to stay up to date on these evolving trends so that you can be prepared to help buyers when they are shopping for a new vehicle.