The clash between the titans just does not seem to stop. Apple and Google are back trying to win over users by offering safe and intuitive mobile user interface for car. Both tech giants have developed operating-system extensions geared specifically for the dashboard: Apple’s CarPlay and Google’s Android Auto.
According to a report, the connected car is fast emerging as one of the most important new digital platforms and of the 220 million total connected cars on the road globally in 2020, it is estimated that consumers will activate connected services in 88 million of these vehicles.
While the two platforms are pitted against each other, it is worth noting that there are subtle differences. Android Auto and CarPlay are designed to perform with native mobile platform and expected to release over the next year.
Here is a quick comparison between both operating systems.
Home screen and organization
Both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are designed keeping safety in the mind and minimizing distractions while driving. Just plug in your iPhone and CarPlay will put all the things that you might need on the car’s in-dash screen. You would have options you’d expect: Phone, Music, Maps, and Messages all in the way that you can focus on driving. The icons are all structured and laid out just like an iOS device. Most of the actions can be controlled using Siri and can be accessed through apps or work with car’s controls such as knobs, buttons, or touchscreen.
Android Auto too was designed keeping in mind safety while on the go. With integrated steering wheel controls and powerful new voice actions, Android Auto is specifically designed to minimize distractions so that you can stay focused on the driving part.
Android Auto automatically displays useful information and organizes it into simple cards that appear just when they’re needed.
Android Auto features Google Now with live-updating stream of information cards displaying contextual weather information, notifications and shortcuts based on user habits and recent searches.
Now coming to Google’s strong area, Maps. Google Maps is the default navigation app for Android Auto. Undoubtedly, Google Maps provides turn-by-turn direction in well-laid out maps, traffic updates and suggests alternative routes. Android Auto integrates well to suggest destination with information cards.
On the CarPlay, Apple Maps is your only choice that integrates with CarPlay and Siri voice commands. While Apple Maps does the job, Android Auto leads all the way. It is worth noting that both Android Auto and CarPlay don’t offer the driver the choice to use third-party navigation software or offline navigation options.
When it comes to audio streaming apps, users thankfully have options to select from. Each system supports its native music app. For instance with CarPlay, it’s iTunes Music, as well as Podcasts. For Android Auto, it is Google Play Music.
However, both allow third-party music apps such as Spotify, iHeart Radio, Stitcher, Radioplayer (UK-only) and Umano. While Android Auto system lets you set service pops up with a press of the music button, CarPlay requires that you hit dedicated app icon. This step might require some scrolling to the annoyance of users. Both OSes have APIs that let third-party audio app developer to adapt their software for Android Auto or CarPlay.
Voice commands and search
This is an area where the battle between both giants gets tough. Both Google Now’s voice search and Apple’s Siri are extremely powerful and user friendly. Driver can simply make calls schedule reminders, reschedule appointments or send text messages by talking. The battle between the virtual assistants is fiercely competitive and both go head-to-head.
CarPlay keeps things to the point and very simple when it comes to messaging. It supports only Apple’s native messaging application- Text and iMessages. In this case Android Auto is the clear winner with support to integrate third-party messaging apps such as WhatsApp, Skype, ICQ, Kik and its very own Hangouts.
When it comes to functionality and ease of use, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are evenly matched. The main difference between the two boils down to core design. Android Auto provides information with contextual Google Now cards that seemed to know driver’s next move. CarPlay provides well thought-out and simple design.
While CarPlay and Android Auto offer similar experiences, both require sacrifices depending on what matters the most to the driver. But the decision was already made when you opted for your phone.