Reviews

Apple CarPlay is Miles Ahead of Android Auto, and You Can’t Convince Me Otherwise

Something that keeps popping up in discussions online and hot takes is the argument that Android Auto is superior to Apple’s CarPlay. Reasons often given are the Google Maps experience, the Apps that can be accessed, and Notifications. However, I will argue against this view, highlighting the following two undeniable advantages of CarPlay:

  1. Ease of connectivity
  2. Ease of completion of tasks

In these simple things, Apple CarPlay beats any other Android Auto experience I’ve ever had. I say that because your Android Auto experience varies a lot depending on the smartphone you use. I’ve even written a list of smartphones to trust for Android Auto.

Ease of connectivity:

I walk into my car, plug in the USB Cable, and off we go. This has been the case from the iPhone 11 Pro Max, the iPhone 13 Pro Max and my current iPhone 15 Pro Max with its USB Type-C port. Not once do I need to fiddle with anything to get Apple CarPlay running. I cannot say the same of my Android Auto experience.

Depending on the Android-powered phone, here are things I might need to work on before Android Auto pops up:

  • Some devices might require manual enabling of Android Auto from settings.
  • Some devices might need different USB C cables to work – I don’t know why, but it is a thing.
  • Some devices might need the apps to be manually started from the phone for them to open up on Android Auto.
  • Some devices might disconnect Android Auto while driving for no reason whatsoever – and the cable is still connected and charging.
  • Some devices might overheat while driving – this especially happens with Samsung phones.
  • Some devices may force you to type your destination on Google Maps from the phone keyboard.
  • This list can go on and on.

With the iPhone, CarPlay is a perfect simple well-arranged mirroring of the smartphone. Connection is a matter of seconds, and you’re assured your connection will stick throughout the journey. With modern cars that have steering wheel controls, CarPlay will always get the buttons right which is something funny enough doesn’t work for some with Android Auto.

Completion of Tasks:

In my experience, doing stuff around Apple CarPlay is remarkably easier, faster and smoother than on Android Auto. Let me give a few examples:

  • Asking Siri or Google to make a phone call – for me, Siri will look at the contact list and pick the contact and complete the call almost always no matter how hard the name is. That’s not the case for Google Assistant which will always say “Sorry, who do you want to call”. It’s like Google doesn’t want to try and hear the name I’ve pronounced at all. Siri will understand local names very well. Google will fumble and annoy you always.
  • Maps and GPS – my main complaint with even the Galaxy S24 which I just reviewed is how Google Maps on Android Auto is always claiming I’m on a different road from where I actually am. It keeps jumping GPS positioning while driving, and the same I’ve noticed with some other Android devices. There’s still no proper explanation as to why this is the case, but funny enough it never arises when I’m using CarPlay.
  • Commands to Play Music or Podcasts – in my experience, asking Siri on CarPlay to search for a song, or a podcast is effortlessly better than on Android Auto with Google Assistant. This goes back to the ease of connectivity point where I said with Android Auto you’re at times forced to manually open an app for on the device for it to actually start in the car. The Google Assistant will always hear you, but it can’t start the app, and so things like playing music or a podcast become so hard.

Now, Google Assistant is obviously miles better than Siri in real-life every-day use. But as explained above, when in the car, there’s a way Siri just gets the edge with pronunciations especially when making phone calls, and when asking for music or podcasts.

Where the Google Assistant wins in the car is with explanations and other questions. I can comfortably ask Google Assistant about facts and answers about stuff and it will answer me while driving. That’s not the case with Siri at all. Instead it will tell me, “I cannot show you that while driving!” I raise this because in Kenya, Google Assistant for some reason can’t be downloaded to iPhones.

Conclusion:

Android Auto will disconnect at times, require different cables require apps to be manually fired up from the device, not respond to commands, and fail at running requests. With some devices, Android Auto might not even fire up when you plug in the cable – or if wirelessly when your phone is in the car.

Meanwhile, CarPlay will always work. Siri is stupid – we all know that, but it knows saved contact list names better, and makes calls when driving easier to complete. There’s also SharePlay on CarPlay allowing other users to curate their own playlists and everyone to have a fun road trip.

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