It has become a pretty standard  to see Apple and Android attempting to one-up each other. Being the two biggest mobile operating systems in the world, and essentially catering to the same demographic. We’ve seen it numerous times before, and this year’s WWDC and I/O Conference were no different. Earlier in the year Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) gave us a new OS for our cars called CarPlay and last week, Google Inc. (NASDAQ:GOOG) Android got a chance to debut Android Auto. Let’s take a look at the new option in automobile operating systems and really dig into what it is that it’s providing and/or lacking.

Google Android Auto

As far as ground features, Android Auto is established through a wired connection from your phone to your car’s infotainment system via the standard micro USB that should already be built-in. At present Android is still evaluating other options for wireless connectivity. Additionally, Android Auto is developed and functional in both touchscreen, and non-touchscreen infotainment system models, and of course there’s always voice control.

From an aesthetic standpoint, there is a really cohesive look between all of the apps available for Android Auto, and they all maintain a uniform navigation bar for quick access to voice dialing, navigation, music and simple redirection back to the app tray.  While Android Auto designs tend to mirror one another, you are still presented with a customizable aspect to tailor the app’s features to your unique style.

safety-first

With regards to maps, and the system in general, Android Auto has made things simpler, bigger (obviously) and a bit more direct, which is important when considering safety on the road. For making calls, Android Auto automatically pulls up your recent and most frequent callers for ease of access, and through GPS gives you the functionality of traditional in-car systems such as local weather, shops and attractions.

Google has made it simple on the developer end as well by keeping the design kits tight and well-formed, not just for the purpose of consistency, but to also keep app developers from having to work entire car-ready applications from the ground up.  One thing we noticed is that Google’s voice companion isn’t exactly up to speed with the search capabilities of  Siri.

There  haven’t been any official announcements from Google or Android Auto partners on app requirements, but that might not be a bad thing. And one last win; we appreciate the location-based reminders. These are becoming more and more popular and have already been featured on the iPhone and in apps like Foursquare, but applying it to an auto operating system seems like that’s what it was truly made for.

While Android Auto still lacks a bit of the shine we saw from CarPlay, it’s evident that Google wanted to focus on functionality and simplicity and they definitely nailed it. To make Android Auto make intelligence and adoptable Google has recently got Ex-Ford CEO Alan Mulally on board,  who would be looking over the debut of Android Auto. It’s important to mention Alan was also among the top runners in the race to Microsoft’s CEO. Anything new that’s added will have to stand up to the “is this necessary” test, and we most certainly appreciate that.

  • PaulConrad

    msuozzi1 That’s ridiculous. Mercedes states very clearly on their website that they intend to integrate both as soon as Google makes theirs available. Apple got the jump on them no doubt, and they have the branding already in place, but to insist that nobody will install both is just silly and naive.

  • jhod

    rattyxxx No, Android works on things that work, not things that are just pretty, but will drain your phone and crash every few mins (apple).

  • kc4ojm

    msuozzi1 My guess is all smart manufacturers will make their systems compatible with both systems. They would be foolish not to because if they only support one system they will effectively eliminate half of their customer base because they don’t support their phone system. Both systems are going to be great and people shouldn’t have to choose a new vehicle based on the the phone they choose to own. Auto makers don’t want that either, they will figure out how to make their vehicles compatible with both.

  • joseanand

    rattyxxx and the next sentence says “Google wanted to focus on functionality and simplicity and they definitely Nailed it.”

  • Snyg

    Eventually just about all car makers will offer both (of course!!):

    These guys are Android Auto exclusive so far:
    – Acura
     – Bentley
     – Infiniti
     – Maserati
     – Renault
     – Seat
     – Skoda
     – Volkswagen

    And these brands are currently working with only Apple’s CarPlay:
     – BMW
     – Citroen
     – Ferrari
     – Jaguar-Land Rover
     – Mercedes-Benz
     – Peugeot
     – Toyota

    A few brands have already signed up with both tech giants:
     – Abarth
     – Alfa Romeo
     – Audi
     – Chevrolet
     – Chrysler
     – Dodge
     – Fiat
     – Ford
     – Honda
     – Hyundai
     – Kia
     – Jeep
     – Mazda
     – Mitsubishi
     – Nissan
     – Opel
     – RAM
     – Subaru
     – Suzuki
     – Volvo

    Source: http://www.wired.com/author/jordan_golson/, Wired 
    Read more: http://dazeinfo.com/2014/07/17/google-inc-goog-android-auto-tough-competitor-apple-carplay/#ixzz37jdQ8cyF

  • msuozzi1

    Whatever comparison you want to make Google already lost.
    All but about 3 carmakers are adopting I-OS & Car Play.
    Documented and announced fact that cannot be disputed.
    And nobody will install both.

  • rattyxxx

    “While Android Auto still lacks a bit of the shine we saw from CarPlay”

    Says it all. Apple works on stuff that works, Android goes off half cocked. 

    Let’s see how it pans out but pretty certain most luxury cars go with CarPlay…