carplay: Explained: Difference between Android Auto and Apple CarPlay

The never ending war between Android and iOS continue as users on each platform brag about the superiority of their personal mobile operating systems. The cross-platform struggle is not limited to home devices like smartphones and tablets, but extends to infotainment systems found in cars. These car infotainment systems can perform more than just an entertainment unit. Google’s car infotainment system is called Android Auto while the one developed by Apple called Apple CarPlay. These infotainment systems aren’t usually the only deciding factor in buying a car, however, they can become one of the main ones to consider. Recently there have been reports of some BMW cars are shipping without Android Auto or Air CarPlay because semiconductor shortages are common. Here we will discuss how Android Auto system differs from Apple CarPlay and which system is better for what users.
Android Auto vs Apple CarPlay: Which has a smoother interface?
The user interface is the first thing a consumer interacts with after they boot into Android Auto or CarPlay. The home screen on Apple CarPlay looks like a screen similar to that of an iPhone or iPad. The icons on this theme are large and easy to click while the screen scrolls horizontally. Scrolling through different pages on CarPlay is usually smooth because it has no lag or flicker. For a premium feel, the animations are smooth and the interface is pretty slick.
Unlike Apple CarPlay, Android Auto comes with a vertical scrolling interface similar to the one currently found in Android smartphones. The most used apps will be shown in the top row, followed by all the other apps. The interface will remind users of their Android phones, but the lack of smoothness will not satisfy users like their handsets. Some users have also complained about occasional frame drops when scrolling through the interface affecting the user experience.
Android Auto and Apple CarPlay: Navigation
Navigation keeps the driver on track, and this is the most important use case for these automotive systems. Using CarPlay Apple Maps by default, but users can also switch it to Google Maps. Regarding direction and fluidity, Google map works well on CarPlay, however, it lacks some basic features. Firstly, it takes up almost the entire screen and shows less information than Android Auto. Users can’t scroll/move in the map with their fingers, and some users have also complained about the slow responsiveness of the touchscreen on CarPlay when it’s running Google Maps. Users need to turn on the arrow keys to pan around the map, which can be annoying and distracting while driving.
Android Auto and Apple CarPlay: Call
Calls on Android Auto don’t interrupt Google Maps navigation on the screen because incoming calls are displayed as a banner at the top of the screen with no minimal real estate. However, taking a call on CarPlay will cover the entire screen with the incoming call UI. This forces the user to manually return to the home screen and tap the Maps icon again to relaunch navigation. However, the cellular coverage in the area you are driving and the device you are using also determines the calling experience.
Android Auto and Apple CarPlay: Notification Banners
Notification banners work differently on both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. A banner appears at the bottom of the screen for CarPlay, where users can tap the banner to interact. When you tap it, Siri can read the notification aloud and ask if it needs to be answered. Meanwhile, on Android Auto, a smaller banner is displayed at the top for incoming notifications. The user can tap it to read it or can use two other options – dismiss the notification and even mute the notification from that contact. The option to use Assistant to read aloud or respond to notifications is also available on Android Auto.
Android Auto and Apple CarPlay: Voice Assistant
Voice assistants on both systems can be activated using the wake word ‘Hey Google’ or ‘Hey Siri’ respectively. Furthermore, Android Auto also provides a dedicated button to invoke the Google Assistant which is not available in CarPlay.

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