A Basic Guide to Apple CarPlay and Android Auto


We live in a world where everyone is glued to their phones. If you’ve been inside a new vehicle lately, you’ve probably noticed that a lot of new cars offer smartphone integration: Apple CarPlay for Apple products and Android Auto for Android phones. These systems are user-friendly, can be used with voice activation, and can be controlled with the buttons on the steering wheel in cars that come equipped with navigation systems. Many of today’s most popular messaging apps work seamlessly across both platforms.

What Are Apple CarPlay and Android Auto?

If you are shopping for new cars NZ you may have come across this new technology, which is becoming popular all over the world. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are in-car assistant systems that allow you to connect more easily to your phone. You can play music, listen to audiobooks, get driving directions, make calls, and respond with voice-to-text messages whilst remaining hands-free and focused safely on the road. Both apps have been around since late 2014/early 2015, but it is only in the last few years that car manufacturers have started to include them as an integrated part of the vehicle.

Where Can You Get These Systems?

Your vehicle’s user manual can tell you if either of these apps come standard with your car. If they are not pre-installed, you can often upgrade your navigation system to include them. After-market units are also available to install in older vehicle models that don’t have nav systems. IPhone users with iOS 7.1 or higher have Apple CarPlay pre-installed. Android phones do not come pre-installed with Android Auto, but users with an operating system of 5.0 or higher can download the app. You can also use Android Auto as a stand-alone app to make your phone hands-free.

How Do You Use Apps?

To begin, unlock your phone and start your car’s engine (but leave it in the park whilst setting up the system). Next plug your handset into the vehicle’s main USB port (or, if you have Bluetooth, connect to your car wirelessly). The system should automatically launch onto your car’s infotainment screen. Make sure your cord is a quality charging cable that is also rated for data transfer. Android users can test the system by saying, “Hey Google, help,” (or if you have an iPhone, “Hey Siri, help.”) Keep in mind, using either of these apps may use up mobile data from your phone’s data plan.

Are There Differences Between the Two?

In general, both systems will do the same thing: help you to interface with your phone in the car whilst remaining hands-free. Many manufacturers will have both apps pre-installed on the vehicle, but some will only have one or the other. You will need to check the car’s documentation to be sure. Obviously, if you are already an Apple user, you might not want to purchase a car that has Android Auto on it.

Both systems will allow you to make calls, dictate texts and emails, get driving directions, and listen to music, but how they do it may differ. For instance, Apple CarPlay gives you full access to your music collection and lets you browse it however you wish, whilst Android Auto restricts you to listening only to playlists and the queue.

Are They Right for You?

Most people agree that Apple CarPlay and Android Auto make staying connected whilst on the go easier. Whether they increase driving safety is still up for debate. Yes, voice-activated commands dramatically reduce the need to focus on a screen, but anything that requires even a short glance away from the road is still considered distracted driving.

Whether these systems will be useful to you depends on how connected you are to your phone: Are you streaming music constantly throughout your day? Do you text more than you actually talk to people? Is your commute to work long enough to have an entire phone conversation? Are you a professional on the go who is constantly thinking of things you want to remember whilst behind the wheel? If you answered “yes” to any of those questions, then you will probably find value in one of these interfaces.

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