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CarPlay Somehow Becomes the Android Automotive Alternative Google Never Wanted
CarPlay and Android Automotive are two completely different beats. In so many ways, Android Automotive is capable of delivering a much more advanced experience, as it’s the operating system powering the infotainment capabilities inside the car.

CarPlay Somehow Becomes the Android Automotive Alternative Google Never Wanted

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CarPlay, on the other hand, essentially lets users cast the iPhone screen to the display in the cabin, obviously with a driving-optimized UI and lots of restrictions that make sense behind the wheel.

Google’s alternative to CarPlay is called Android Auto, and it evidently comes with a similar approach: it requires a mobile device to be connected to the head unit of the car, either using a cable or wirelessly, to mirror the phone to the display.

As said, Android Automotive has a completely different purpose. It offers a more native Android experience, as it’s the operating system powering the infotainment capabilities in the car. It doesn’t require a mobile device to be connected to the head unit, it’s installed from the factory, and more importantly, it’s deeply integrated with the vehicle functions.

So as compared to Android Auto and CarPlay, Android Automotive offers much more advanced features, such as the possibility of adjusting the climate control settings and the position of the seats, all using nothing but voice commands via Google Assistant.

At this point, Apple doesn’t have a direct competitor to Android Automotive (though the company is already working on the next-generation CarPlay, and it should be here in late 2023), so for the time being, it’s just focusing on the battle against Android Auto.

But as it turns out, not everybody is a big fan of Android Automotive, despite the obvious benefits it brings versus Android Auto and CarPlay. So even if their cars are fitted with Android Automotive, they still end up searching for ways to get CarPlay, something that’s a little surprising but which somehow makes sense considering they’re iPhone owners.

Volvo, for instance, is one of the first companies that decided to bet big on Android Automotive, and several of its models are already fitted with Google’s operating system. Again, given Android Automotive’s backbone is Android itself and no mobile device is required, customers should be provided with a much more advanced experience than they’d normally get on CarPlay.

And yet, it looks like most of them are actually willing to give up on Android Automotive and “downgrade” to CarPlay. Volvo has already confirmed that the customer feedback on this front has been very relevant, confirming that most drivers want CarPlay in their cars.

As a result, Volvo is shipping an over-the-air update that will add support for wired CarPlay in its Android Automotive cars, essentially allowing users to stick with Apple in a Google-powered vehicle.

This doesn’t make much sense for tech-savvy users, as the benefits of having a fully featured operating system in a car are more than obvious over a mobile-mirrored interface, but at the end of the day, the whole thing isn’t necessarily surprising.

First and foremost, when you’re deeply committed to an ecosystem, as it’s the case of iPhone users and the Apple device ecosystem, it’s hard to give up on it. Even if Android Automotive is a much more advanced platform, not being able to have the iPhone experience mirrored on the screen of your car is without a doubt a major setback.

And second, it shows that Apple needs to come up with something big on this front, and this is precisely an alternative to Android Automotive. The next-generation CarPlay won’t be here by 2024 (the first cars fitted with this system will be announced in late 2023 as MY 2024), so until the debut happens, Apple users will have no other option than to hope their brand-new Android Automotive-powered cars also come with CarPlay support.

 
 
 
 
 

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