In this article, we’re going to look into the various features and benefits of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto respectively, and ask the all-important question: Are they actually worth it?
Later on, we’re also going to tackle 2 of your most frequently asked questions on the subject, including “Which is better: CarPlay or Android Auto?”.
Table of Contents
- What do CarPlay or Android Auto have to offer?
- Can I just use my phone instead?
- Does Android Auto work with iPhone?
- Which is better: CarPlay or Android Auto?
And we certainly get why you would ask whether either is actually worth it.
With Apple CarPlay for example, not only does BMW charge an annual subscription fee of $80 for a car with CarPlay compatibility, but if your car does not already have an infotainment system installed you can expect to pay an average of $200 for the installation, including parts and labor.
And the installation takes an average of 3 hours. But at least it is free to use.
Quite often the infotainment system alone can cost upwards of a whopping $500, and that’s before you even decide which of the two to go for.
What do CarPlay or Android Auto have to offer?
The benefits of CarPlay or Android Auto are clear and many. First and foremost they present a safe way to use the apps on your smartphone while you are driving.
You can keep your hands on the wheel and keep your eyes exactly where they are best placed, on the road ahead.
Of course many cars these days come already equipped with an infotainment system built-in, but the disadvantages of these are that you don’t get to choose which apps are installed, and the apps that are installed are rather basic.
For example, a built-in infotainment system will be able to play downloaded files such as songs and audiobooks, but it won’t be able to play your Spotify playlists, your YouTube Music playlists, or any audiobooks you’ve bought from Amazon’s Audible.
Can I just use my phone instead?
In most places now, it is illegal to hold your smartphone while you are driving.
This is not just because it poses a distraction, but by using it at all your eyes are removed from the road ahead to focus inside your car, and you could very easily miss a hazard, such as another vehicle about to collide, or worst-case scenario, a pedestrian in your path.
With both CarPlay and Android Auto you can activate apps and give instructions using your voice alone, without having to click on any icons with your hands, keeping your hands exactly where they should be, on the steering wheel.
But despite their ease of use these in-car systems can be distracting, even if you’re using your voice to make commands because your mind is split between the road ahead and your in-car system.
So they’re not foolproof. In fact, a recent study found using CarPlay is more distracting than driving drunk.
If you have a passenger beside you and/or in the back, you could easily have them deal with your smartphone, answering any calls that come through, reporting on any texts or chat messages received, and of course, operating your navigational apps, Spotify, or Audible and such like.
And this way, you can be just as safe to drive your vehicle and still get to listen to your favorite songs.
However, you have to ask yourself whether you really want the passenger going through your phone, or for that matter having ultimate control over what music gets played on your journey.
Does Android Auto work with iPhone?
The short answer is no.
Android Auto only works with smartphones that feature certain Android operating systems, specifically Android 6.0 and newer (it’s actually included with Android 10 and anything newer!).
All of which is an entirely different operating system to the one that Apple iPhones use, the iOS.
Examples of such phones include the Samsung Galaxy S8, the Samsung Galaxy S8+, and the Samsung Galaxy Note 8.
If you are looking for something like Android Auto, but have an iPhone rather than an Android phone, then you would be better off with the Apple CarPlay, unless you are considering changing your phone.
Which is better: CarPlay or Android Auto?
To be honest the best in-car phone system is the one that’s compatible with the smartphone that you already have.
That way you won’t have to go out and buy a new phone, just to ensure compatibility!
But, on the other hand, if you’re also thinking of getting yourself a new smartphone, then it’s a question worth asking…
But it’s a tricky question because it comes down to what apps you like.
The apps you can access on CarPlay may be very similar to those available on Android Auto, but they are not the same.
To be honest, though, both systems are of excellent quality, and you won’t go far wrong with either of them.
So, there are clearly many wonderful benefits to having either CarPlay or Android Auto…
We would argue that if you don’t already have an infotainment system of some sort installed, it could certainly be worth getting one…
For one thing, with the introduction of such infotainment systems, it’s now much harder to get hold of the navigation systems that attach to your front window. And it would be worth it for that alone.
But whether you should bother with CarPlay or Android Auto comes down to three main factors.
The first is how attached you are to your smartphone apps. Would it kill you to be listening to the radio instead of Spotify?
The second is whether you usually have a passenger in the vehicle who can take care of your smartphone messages and other apps on your behalf as you concentrate on the road.
And the third comes down to your local area. Is local radio the best way to hear about relevant traffic updates in a timely fashion, or is there a really good navigation app on your smartphone, that’s bang up to date and specific to your area.