The technology in our cars is changing more quickly than most of us can keep up with. Ten years ago it wouldn’t be unusual to get in a friend’s car and connect your phone to their tape player conversion cable to play your favorite music, while nowadays our phones automatically connect to Bluetooth the second we get in the car. With the increasing market of smartphones and the in-car computer systems, it can be tricky to know which system is right for you.
If you’re caught choosing between Apple CarPlay or Entune or Android Auto, or just want to know what the difference is between all of these new systems, read on for a basic breakdown of each. As it turns out, there is no “best” system. Instead, you should consider what phone you have, vehicle manufacturers you like, and what phone functions you prioritize while driving.
Apple CarPlay is technology developed by Apple to connect your phone to the car’s dashboard monitor display. Because the technology is exclusive to Apple, CarPlay is only an option for iPhone users.
When your phone connects to your car via CarPlay, a number of apps are run through the car’s display system. In some cases, this may even limit the usability of those apps on your phone’s screen while connected. Apps such as those for navigation, music, calls, and texts will be displayed through the monitor. You can also connect to Siri through CarPlay.
Apple CarPlay is in over 500 vehicles on the market today, and seems to be the preferred system for a number of luxury car brands. Companies such as Aston Martin, Bentley, BMW, Ferrari, Lamborghini, and Porsche all only offer CarPlay at the moment.
Unlike CarPlay and Android Auto, Entune is compatible with a variety of smartphones. However, Entune is exclusive to Toyota vehicles. New Toyota models are equipped with a standard version of Entune that includes expected features found in other infotainment systems such as Bluetooth, voice recognition, USB or auxiliary connectivity, and Siri.
However, if you’re looking for additional features you’ll have to select from one of two premium upgrade options. One of these upgrades opens access to more music selections such as HD radio or SiriusXM. You also have the option of accessing convenience features like traffic or weather through the other upgrade.
Android Auto is very similar to Apple CarPlay in that the technology is compatible with a limited selection of phones and a broad selection of cars. Like CarPlay, over 20 manufacturers currently offer Android Auto. Most major manufacturers offer both options, but unlike Apple, there are no Android Auto-exclusive vehicles on the market.
Android Auto is also equipped with a virtual assistant, its Siri equivalent being powered through Google. Android Auto emphasizes its organizational features, advertising the ability to ask your assistant for traffic and weather updates while you drive. Unlike CarPlay, Android Auto does not currently have a messages display on the car screen. Otherwise, the apps accessible are more or less the same between the two.
So Which Is Better?
CarPlay and Android Auto are both powered by technology that resides in your phone and is connected to the car via USB cable. Apple provides a greater degree of visual customization by letting you change the color scheme and app arrangement via your phone. The dark mode iPhone offers may be appealing to some drivers.
Android allows some reorganization as well, but the display is not as changeable. Differences between the user interfaces between the two are comparable to the differences between using an iPhone or Android normally - similar functions are just arranged differently.
What system you use ultimately comes down to which phone you already have and what car you’d like to drive. Most cars on the market are currently equipped to use either system, meaning only drivers looking into specific brands may encounter compatibility issues. For loyal Toyota customers, the fees for an upgrade to your car’s system may also be a factor to consider. Would these technologies in any way improve the value of your car when trying to sell it online? Time will tell.
Overall, it’s important to remember these systems are designed to make your life more convenient. The popularity of this technology is only increasing with time, and when car shopping in 2021 all you’ll need to consider is what phone you’ve already got and what car brands you’re already attracted to.
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