Apple CarPlay vs. Android Auto: Which belongs in your next ride?

Apple and Google’s ongoing war for your devotion is being waged on a new battlefront: your car. With CarPlay and Android Auto, Apple and Google aim to bring the familiar interface from your phone into your car’s dash. Both tech giants will tell you their platforms are as much about safety as they are  a better in-car entertainment experience, and they’re right. As we’ve come to rely on our small screens for everything from driving directions to music playback and text messages, we have a tough time putting our phones down and keeping our hands on the wheel and our eyes on the road where they belong — and that’s just plain dangerous.

We’ve gone hands-on with many car manufacturer’s  proprietary infotainment systems, and we can confidently report that CarPlay and Android Auto are flat-out superior. After all, what’s more familiar than the screen you look at every day, all day? And what device is more connected to you than your smartphone? So we can confidently say that CarPlay and Android Auto are good ideas, but which one is better?

Naturally, those dedicated to one OS over the other will have their favorite by default, if only because they are a die-hard iPhone or Android user. But we’ve discovered that each of these systems offers a very different sort of experience, and there are factors at play here that extend beyond one’s typical use of their phone.

That being the case, we decided to pit CarPlay and Android Auto against each other. In our video, we highlight similarities and differences in various functions like in-car texting and calling, navigation, music playback, and more. We think you’ll find that each has its own distinct advantages and disadvantages. And now that Apple Music has arrived and Google Play music has changed its tune, there’s even more to consider.

Would you ever switch teams and join the Apple fanclub or enlist with the Android Army based purely on what their in-car experience was like? We thought not, but then we spent a couple of months using both, and now we’re not so sure. What is certain is that, with both platforms now coexisting in aftermarket systems like Pioneer’s NEX series receivers and Kenwood’s eXcelon, plus auto manufacturers like GM bundling both in many of their 2016 vehicles, many will have to confront such a decision. We hope our comparison helps make that decision-making process just a little bit easier.

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