Google recently announced the launch of Android Auto, an in-car tech solution to rival Apple CarPlay, which was announced earlier in the year. We compare both products and let you know which cars will be fitted with the technology over the coming months.
In March, Apple announced a partnership with a host of leading car manufacturers to roll out CarPlay, the company's in-car integration of Apple iOS 7. Apple says CarPlay will allow drivers to use the functions of their iPhone in the car through Siri voice control, the car's visual display and physical controlsi. Google followed up with the recent announcement of Android Auto, an in-car infotainment system for Android devicesii. We look at the features of both systems and the various car manufacturers that will make these solutions available for drivers.
Apple CarPlay will be compatible with the iPhone 5, iPhone 5s and iPhone 5c, connecting the phone to the car via lightening cable. Once connected, the car's in-built visual display will be used as a touchscreen to control functions of CarPlay, including navigation, phone calls, messages and music apps. Apple has confirmed that Siri voice control will also be integrated into CarPlay, and will be activated by using the car's voice control button on the steering wheel. Apple has also confirmed that any knobs, dials or buttons in the car used to control the visual display will also be used to control CarPlayiii.
Honda, Hyundai, Mercedes Benz and Volvo have announced that they will integrate CarPlay into selected models during 2014iii. New models which have been confirmed to support CarPlay include the Mercedes C-Class (available June 2014) and the new 2014 model Volvo XC90 (availability TBA) .
Apple has confirmed that the following car manufacturers will support CarPlay in the futureiii:
Car owners will also be able to retrofit their vehicles with CarPlay by installing an aftermarket system from partners Pioneer and Alpineiii.
Google claims that the Android Auto will work very similarly to Apple CarPlay. Android Auto was designed to make it easier and safer to use the connected apps and services on an Android device in the car. According to Google, Android Auto will also use the car's in-built display, steering wheel controls and voice control to allow use of Google Maps navigation, music apps and other streaming media apps, voice calls and text messaging.
Google also promises that Android Auto will be contextually aware to provide drivers with the right information at the right timev. For example, if you ordinarily travel home from work at 5pm every day, Android Auto might intuitively display a shortcut for your commute home if you use Android Auto with the car at around 5pmv.
Android Auto will be made available to users later in the year, with the first compatible models to be released at the end of 2014. Upon the announcement of Android Auto, Google also announced that 40 new partners had joined the company's Open Automotive Alliance, with 25 car brands signed up to roll out Android Auto in the near futurev.
Google has confirmed that the following car brands will support Android Auto in the futureii:
CarPlay will allow drivers to use the Apple Maps app through their car's dashboard screen and speakers, with functionality including turn-by-turn navigation, traffic conditions and estimated travel time. Apple says that Apple Maps will also be able to intuitively predict where drivers will want to go by accessing address information stored in the phone's emails, text messages, contacts and calendarsiii.
Android Auto users will have access to the features of Google Maps, including local searches, personalised suggestions, live traffic and turn-by-turn navigation. Directions will be available to the driver on a floating card which will appear above the map. Any incoming message notifications will appear at the top of the screen during navigation mode so the driver's journey is not interruptedv.
Phone calls and messages
Phone calls and messages will be available through CarPlay, too, giving the user access to existing phone contacts and messages. Apple has said that drivers will also be able to initiate and end calls through Siri voice control, ensuring they maintain their focus on the road. Siri will also be used to send, read and reply to text messages, a convenient feature for drivers who often risk texting while driving.
Android Auto's voice-enabled messaging will allow incoming messages to be automatically read aloud upon receipt and replies to be dictated via voice control. Google has not yet confirmed how Android Auto will enable drivers to answer or make phone calls, although a docked phone icon is clearly visible in images of the interface released by Googleii.
Drivers will have access to iTunes Radio and any music stored in their iTunes library on their phone thanks to CarPlay's integration of audio playback. The car's in-built controls can be used to skip through songs, or Siri can be used to select music. Other audio apps, such as Podcasts, Spotify and Stitcher, will also be supported. Apple will announce more supported apps as the rollout of the software occurs over the coming monthsiii.
Similarly, Android Auto users will be able to access their music, playlists and preferences stored in their Google Play account via the car interfacev. Music can be managed via voice control or the car's in-built physical controls. Android Auto users will also have access to a range of other popular music and media streaming apps like Spotify, Pandora, iHeart Radio and Pocketcastsii.