Palash Volvoikar / Android Authority
Phones have become so versatile that they have invaded the infotainment system in a large number of newer cars. Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are now the best options for an in-car experience, especially if you want a little familiarity and consistency.
While I’ve been as indecisive as the general consensus on the Android versus iPhone debate in the mobile space — I’ve swung between the two several times over the years — I think my choice will finally be this time around. to be made. All because of the experience in the car. Android Auto is so bad that I went back to the iPhone, probably for good.
For your suffering: Android Auto Problems and How to Fix Them
This piece reflects my experience using Apple CarPlay on the iPhone 12 Mini, followed by Android Auto on the OnePlus 10 Pro and again CarPlay on the iPhone 13 Mini. The car in question is a Tata Harrier XTA+ Dark Edition, which supports wired versions of Android Auto and Apple CarPlay.
Connection and consistency issues
C. Scott Brown / Android Authority
To begin with, let me explain why I had such high hopes for Android Auto. When I got my car I was using an iPhone 12 Mini and CarPlay was a breeze. I’ve rarely had any issues with it, and the two times it didn’t connect to my car right away, it was just reconnecting the cable. I switched to the OnePlus 10 Pro and thought Android Auto would have at least acceptable flaws. I didn’t expect it to be this much worse than CarPlay.
However, Android Auto was a disappointment from day one. The general inconsistency that is part of Android’s DNA, which we tolerate and often enjoy for the freedom it brings, gets a hundred times worse when projected onto your car’s infotainment screen and you don’t have the time or the luxury. to deal with it. Especially if you’re in a rush to get somewhere or are already driving and can’t keep your eyes off the road for more than a second.
Android Auto requires me to plug in my phone at least four or five times to finally do the handshake that recognizes the connection in my car. Turning on Bluetooth every time I have to connect my phone to my car is also annoying. Still, these would have been fine if the overall experience was consistent.
I did everything I could to make sure my setup wasn’t the problem.
I’ve tried different cables, different Android phones and also different cars to make sure it wasn’t just an issue with my setup. The conclusion? Android Auto was inconsistent even in how bad it was in different setups, but it was still bad at making and maintaining a connection to the car. I did a quick Internet check three times to make sure I wasn’t cursed, and it seems that connectivity issues are just an unavoidable part of Android Auto.
A solution: Using wireless Android Auto in an unsupported car
CarPlay makes the car interface better
Palash Volvoikar / Android Authority
Android Auto’s design elements also leave a lot to be desired. Overall, CarPlay’s design elements are better: clearer, easier to navigate, and more beautiful. The latter may be subjective to a degree, but the former two give CarPlay a distinct advantage. Both systems ran at 800 x 480 resolution in my car, but Android Auto looked noticeably grainy due to the lower DPI.
A car interface should be easy to see while driving. Google’s design is an eyesore, with small elements and a lot of pixelation, especially on those round icons. This is one area where I prefer the bold and loud approach Apple uses with its icons and buttons, by a mile.
The user experience also has issues. What frustrated me more than anything else is Google Maps. While driving, Google Maps on Android Auto completely disables the onscreen keyboard, leaving you at the mercy of a finicky Google Assistant. Otherwise, you’ll have to grab your phone and use the keyboard on it to type in a destination – a very unsafe maneuver while driving.
Who thought it’s a good idea to pick up your phone while driving to type in a destination?
Using Google Assistant would have been acceptable, except it’s not very good at understanding the names of the locations in my area (Goa, India). Not once did it pick up a non-English destination name correctly, after multiple attempts, even if I modified it phonetically. Siri isn’t the best, but I was never forced to use it on CarPlay, and CarPlay’s beautiful keyboard is always there on the car screen when I need it.
Our choices: The best Android Auto apps to get the most out of it
Google Apps are somehow better on CarPlay
Palash Volvoikar / Android Authority
Whether I’m using an Android phone or an iPhone, most of my favorite apps are Google apps. In the car these are Google Maps and YouTube Music. Surprisingly, they both behave noticeably better on CarPlay than they do on Android Auto.
I talked about the biggest limitation of Google Maps above, but there’s more. In my experience it works better on CarPlay with almost zero issues. However, on Android Auto, it would lag behind traffic updates. The interface feels jankier and looks worse too, thanks to the pixelation.
Even Google’s own apps behave better on CarPlay than on Android Auto. That’s a big problem.
The story was similar to YouTube Music. On Android Auto, the app often greeted me with a blank landing page. Audio dropped out occasionally and the sound quality was noticeably worse. That didn’t happen on CarPlay.
I love Google’s services, even if they can be rocky at times. However, in my experience, CarPlay does even the Google portion of auto interfaces better than Android Auto. That’s a big problem.
We tested it: The best car apps for android for drivers and owners
Have you had Android Auto problems?
Android Auto is a disjointed (and irreparable) mess
I really wish Android Auto worked better, but it probably never will, and probably won’t.
Google has a history of cascading errors with certain services, and those services usually never recover. They almost always go to the grave, after multiple iterations that don’t improve much. Android Auto seems to be on that path. Google is reportedly working on a redesign of Android Auto, but should it even bother with that if it already has Android Automotive?
Automotive has been in the works for years and only recently started shipping in some cars. It’s the next step in the Android in-car experience, and Google needs to partner with automakers. As such, it promises to be a better all-round product than Auto. (At WWDC 22, Apple said it’s also following up on CarPlay 2.0, which is a similarly targeted iteration.)
Google isn’t planning Automotive as a follow-up to Auto – for now. However, we all know that Automotive is following the direction the auto industry is already heading: an infotainment system with its own operating system, rather than your phone just projecting a limited interface onto a screen. Why would Google prefer or even work on improving Auto when it already has a step in the door with Automotive? Maybe it’s time to cut his losses and move on.
Screen projection from a phone will become less relevant in the coming years and I don’t expect Android Auto or Apple CarPlay 1.0 to make any more leaps.
For now, however, CarPlay is almost perfect as it is, while Android Auto is a lot of hits and misses. While I wish it wasn’t just to have more choice, I can’t sacrifice ease of use or ignore safety while driving. So I’ll have to stick with an iPhone for a solid and reliable auto interface, and that includes anyone who can’t see beyond the glaring issues in Android Auto.
Next one: You can start using Apple’s new CarPlay experience today