I have a prediction, one that I don’t think is that much of a leap. My prediction is this: Full navigation systems that come built into cars by the manufacturers will soon either be very rare or a thing of the past completely. The reasons for this are Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, two pieces of technology that allow you to “project” specific apps from your smartphone onto your vehicle’s infotainment screen. The most useful of these are the “maps” apps: Android Auto uses Google Maps, and Apple CarPlay uses Apple Maps. So instead of having a navigation system built into your vehicle, you can use the one already on your phone on your vehicle’s big screen. Let’s look at both systems.
Apple CarPlay – If you are an iPhone user you’ll use Apple CarPlay as your phone/car interface software of choice. It looks very similar to the layout of your iPhone, and it is the easiest of the two systems to set up the first time. This will allow you access to apps from your phone such as Phone, Music, Maps, Messages, Podcasts, Audiobooks, and other apps you might have added on your own like Pandora or Spotify. Not all of the apps on your phone will show up on your vehicle’s screen – only the specific apps that have been optimized to work with the CarPlay system. (A full list of compatible apps can be found here.) It’s a very easy to use and easy to control system with large colorful buttons on your vehicle’s touch screen display, and with voice commands featuring everybody’s favorite virtual assistant, Siri.
Android Auto – Android users will use the Android Auto system to “project” a simplified version of their phone to their vehicle’s infotainment system. The bottom row of buttons allow you to control your Maps/Navigation using Google Maps, Phone, and music. The Music icon will allow you to choose the source of music from your phone, such as Google Play Music, Pandora, Spotify, and various podcasting apps. Android Auto requires a little more setup, which includes downloading the Android Auto app from the Google Play Store and going through a few-minute long set up process.
A recent update to the Android Auto system allows users to access the voice command system without hitting a single button. Just say “Okay, Google…” and the built-in Google Assistant will perk up and be ready to take orders.
Now that you’ve been introduced to the two very similar systems, here are the pros and cons of using them in your daily driving life.
- The maps from both Google and Apple are updated constantly (for free), whereas the built-in navigation will need an update every few years at a cost of around $150-$200 per update.
- The voice recognition system is usually more intuitive with Siri and the Google Assistant than the system that comes with your vehicle.
- Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are available on many different makes and models such as Chevrolet, GMC, Buick, Cadillac, Ford, Lincoln, Honda, Kia, Subaru, Hyundai, Acura, Audi, Bentley, Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, Nissan, Infinity, Land Rover, Subaru, VW and more.
- It takes very little data to power the navigation. (Streaming music from the internet takes quite a bit more)
- It saves you the money of having to upgrade thousands of dollars just to get a vehicle with built-in navigation.
- You have to have a smart phone.
- You have to have your phone plugged in with a quality USB cable in order to use these systems.
All-in-all, these systems are powerful, easy to use, and are always evolving with new features due to software updates on the phones that power them. There’s almost no downside of using them if you already have a smartphone. I highly recommend both systems.