Apple CarPlay vs. Android Auto
New-car buyers will find more new-vehicle models in 2016 that will allow them to connect their smartphones easily to their vehicle’s graphic displays for less complicated hands-free communication. Two major phone integration apps are becoming increasingly more available: Apple CarPlay for iPhone users and Android Auto for those who own a “droid.”
Apple created CarPlay software to make hands-free calling simpler and allow access to iPhone apps through an interface with a vehicle’s graphic display screen. Google announced Android Auto software for in-vehicle connectivity with Android 5.0 and 6.0 release smartphones through in-dash head units or infotainment system screens.
Both phone mirroring apps work when there is a cell phone signal. Apple CarPlay is scheduled to be offered in a number of 2016 and 2017 General Motors models as well as in Honda, Hyundai and Kia, Mercedes-Benz, and Volvo models. Many of the same brands also will offer the Android Auto app option.
However, some major automakers, such as Ford Motor Co. (Ford and Lincoln brands), Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (Chrysler, Dodge, Fiat, Jeep, and Ram), and Toyota Group (Toyota, Lexus, and Scion) will not include either app in their roster of 2016 models. Re/code tech news suggests that Ford is offering it as a feature in the new Mustang, and will add support for Siri Eyes Free to its second-generation MyFord Touch systems. It should be noted that many vehicles already offer voice-activated interaction for commands and voice-to-text messages through Apple Siri communication integration.
To help consumers better understand the features and benefits of—and the differences between—Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, following is a brief overview of each tech platform:
- CarPlay works with Apple iPhone 5 and later release phones (iPhone 5, iPhone 5c, iPhone 5s, iPhone 6, and iPhone 6 Plus).
- To pair an iPhone, plug it into the vehicle’s USB port using a compatible cable. When the car’s infotainment system detects the iPhone, an automatic CarPlay icon and update apps appear on the display screen.
- Apple's in-dash software provides hands-free or eyes-free access to maps, phone, messages, music, podcasts, and third-party apps. Nearly a dozen apps chosen by Apple will work with the in-dash software, including Apple’s Beats Music, Spotify, Stitcher, and iHeart Radio.
- CarPlay also supports Siri voice-recognition software for hands-free operation. Siri provides the capability to ask questions for driving directions or to play a specific artist’s tune, while the driver’s eyes are on the road.
- CarPlay can be added to older-model vehicles if the audio/navigation system is replaced with a new in-dash infotainment system that works with CarPlay. Some aftermarket Pioneer and Alpine systems will support the CarPlay app as well as Android Auto.
- In evaluations by third-party websites, CarPlay is given high marks for simplicity in the organization of its graphics and icons. However, Google Maps software is unavailable with CarPlay, which puts the Apple app at a slight disadvantage.
- Google’s Android Auto is compatible with many droid smartphones with in-vehicle audio/navigation or infotainment system graphic displays. It works after the Android phone is plugged into the car through a USB port.
- Any smartphone that runs Android Lollipop 5.0 should be compatible with Android Auto. Major droid makers include Samsung, Sony, HTC, LG, and Google. Recognizable droid brands are Samsung Galaxy, Sony Xperia, LG G4, and Google Nexus.
- However, a few websites note that there have been problems using Android Auto with Samsung Galaxy S5 and S6 and LG G3 smartphones.
- Unlike Apple CarPlay, phone calls still connect via Bluetooth, which is part of the Android Auto automatic setup.
- Google Maps, Google Play Music, Google Now, and other third-party music apps such as Spotify and Pandora can be used behind the capability to make phone calls.
- Voice activation is through Google.
Following is a list of new car, truck, and SUV models that are available with Apple CarPlay (2016 model year unless otherwise noted):
Audi: 2017 Q7 (available early 2016)
Ford: Siri Eyes Free on models (going back to 2010) with second-generation MyFord Touch systems. Models with Sync 3 systems will be able to add CarPlay, according to Re/code news website.
- Buick: LaCrosse, Regal
- Cadillac: ATS (higher-end trims), CT6, CTS (various trims), ELR Coupe, Escalade/ESV, XTS
- Chevrolet: Camaro, Corvette, Cruze, Impala, Malibu, and Volt cars; Colorado, Silverado 1500 and HD pickups; and Suburban, Tahoe SUVs
- GMC: Canyon, Sierra 1500 and HD, Yukon, Yukon XL
Honda: Accord (higher trim levels); Civic (higher trim levels)
Hyundai: Sonata (available later)
Kia: Optima (available later)
Mercedes-Benz: B-Class; CLA; GLA
Mitsubishi: 2017 Mirage
Porsche: 2017 911 Carrera; 2017 Macan
Volkswagen: Beetle, CC, Golf family, Jetta, Passat, and Tiguan (excludes S trim levels)
Ford: All models with Sync 3 systems will soon be able to support Android Auto
- Buick: LaCrosse, Regal
- Cadillac: ATS, CTS, ELR, Escalade, XTS
- Chevrolet: Camaro, Corvette, Cruze, Impala, Malibu, Spark cars; Colorado, Silverado 1500 and HD pickups, Suburban, Tahoe SUVs; and Volt PHEV (models with 7-in. MyLink screen will include Android Auto)
- GMC: Canyon, Sierra 1500 and HD, Yukon, and Yukon XL
Honda: Accord (many trim levels)
Volkswagen: Beetle, CC, Golf, Jetta, Passat, and Tiguan (not in base trims)
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