Apple vs. Android: that alone is one of the most talked about rivalries in the world of technology. Devotees to each brand were often responsible for expressing their dislike on the other side to anyone who paid attention to them. And although there are probably people who cling to their old battle positions, the reality is that Apple and Android are not so different in terms of operation. At this point, the operating systems of both companies do practically the same, attracting users more by the philosophies of their brands than by their functionality. The same could be said of the Apple CarPlay vs. Android Auto case: both products project a certain degree of smart phone home screen on the vehicle's instrument panel and both offer the ability to handle certain basic functions of your phone without using your hands. Regardless of whether it is Android or Apple, the benefits are obvious. Both systems offer high functionality and a wide variety of applications to vehicles that otherwise will not have those capabilities. Things like navigation or streaming Audio was once reserved for the most expensive vehicles, but with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto those functions are available to users of much more affordable vehicles. More and more automotive companies are joining the trend of including these interfaces in their products; Manufacturers such as Toyota and Lexus (same parent company, but it does not matter) just now begin to include this functionality in their vehicles.
What do they look like?
What is Apple CarPlay What is Android Auto
In many ways, the two systems reach the same destination, but the way they do it is a bit different. Both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto project a simplified version of a smart phone interface on the screens found in the dashboard of the latest vehicles. These interfaces include applications that operate from the phone's operating system and offer a certain level of hands-free calls and text messages.
Maps and music are also included by default in both systems, although the flavors of each thing vary according to Apple and Google products. CarPlay is compatible with Google Maps in addition to Apple Maps, which comes by default, but Apple Maps does not work on Android Auto. Both systems also have support for the use of music applications and other third-party functions. There are many music applications and podcasts that you can use in both, such as Spotify, Stitcher and Pandora.
Your connections work very similarly. The most basic ones require the phone to have a direct USB connection with the vehicle, although some of the newer cars accept a wireless connection. Both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto can be used with a wireless connection via Bluetooth, although the number of compatible cars is limited and only the latest devices can be connected.
How are they different?
It is true that Apple's iOS and Google's Android are closer than ever in terms of functionality, but there are still some key differences. Apple's ecosystem is much more protected than Google's, which in part means that CarPlay only works with the iPhone. Specifically, CarPlay only works with the iPhone 5 and the latest models, as long as they use the newest versions of the software and have a Lightning port. Android, on the other hand, works with a wide variety of devices ranging from cheap to extravagant. That makes things a bit more confusing for Android users, but the good news is that you can use Android Auto with any device that works with at least Android 5.0 Lollipop. Google recommends that the device have Android 6.0, but it is not mandatory.
There is also the question of Google Assistant against Siri Apple. Although both basically do the same, Google Assistant is usually more useful with the information it offers and the variety of commands it recognizes. However, in most cases the operation in the vehicle is very similar, since both can play songs, make calls or send messages and control the basic functionality of the system.
In what part of the spectrum between these two systems do you fall? That will depend entirely on the type of phone you prefer to use. Both systems do their job well, which is to offer enough smart phone functionality to be convenient without distracting too much from driving (anyway they distract). If you already have a phone with either of the two systems, there is no reason to change in your vehicle. The two systems fulfill their mission. Just don't stop paying attention to the road.