This article may contain affiliate links. That means Acceleramota could receive a small payout after visiting certain links on this page and, in some cases, after doing so and then making a purchase. Our automotive coverage is independently produced by our editorial team and is not influenced by our affiliate partners. Any opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author(s).
Features

Everything on Android Automotive and Android Auto

And we're live! Finally a full-length guide to everything Android Automotive (and Android Auto).

Android Auto Vs Android Automotive

Screens have infiltrated your car! For better or for worse, your favorite infotainment features are now bound to a touchscreen, and Android Auto and Android Automotive will be a part of that. But infotainment is much more than a screen; it’s a gateway. It’s your portal to navigation, music, and even games. Some would argue that most of this is useless because they love driving, and you can’t look at a screen, or you’ll crash! So, you need an intuitive, hands-free, and proactive system like your smartphone.

We blame Google for this, but the Android naming scheme and app names constantly change or disappear from existence. The perfect solution to this is explaining everything on Android Automotive and Android Auto and forever updating it into the future, so that’s what we did!

Oh, and by the way. If you wanted to see if the Apples grow any better on the other side, we got a piece up for Apple CarPlay, as well.

(link opens in same tab)

Android Automotive vs. Android Auto — What’s the difference?

Android Automotive in BMW with iDrive.
Image Credit: BMW

Android Automotive is a version of Google’s Android OS designed specifically for vehicle infotainment systems – the big tablet or normal-sized display, depending on your make and model, sitting in your center console. 

Volvo and Audi were the first auto brands to partner with Google in building Android Automotive for their next-generation vehicles. Although Google revealed Android Automotive to the public in 2017, it didn’t officially debut until the Polestar 2 came along in 2021. Some supported vehicles ship with Google Automotive Services (GAS). This app package contains services like Google Maps, Google Assistant, and Play Store. 

The crucial differentiating factor is that cars without GAS will not directly support Google apps, opting for their customized Android-based app implementations. You cannot access third-party apps through the Google App Store, but if these vehicles support Android Auto, you can still access some of your favorite apps.

What is Android Auto? 

Android Auto is an app for Android phone users to display content from their mobile devices to the infotainment display in their cars. Often bundled with CarPlay, Apple’s iPhone equivalent, Android Auto has been a mainstay since Google announced it in 2014.

Android Auto gets frequent over-the-air system updates and bug fixes, always doing its best to deliver the optimal on-the-road experience for Android folks. You can use Android Auto wirelessly or with a USB cable, though compatibility varies from car to car. Only 2020 models and newer support wireless connectivity.

Key features of Android Automotive

Image Credit: Polestar

Perfect! Now you know the difference between Android Automotive and Android Auto. But your favorite electric car needs an electric operating system. Android Automotive has its own feature set, design language, and cool integrations.

Safety first

Focus on the road! The Android Automotive UI is designed to be easy to navigate and reduces the need for prolonged interactions with infotainment while driving. Google Assistant provides context-aware responses. Proactive suggestions like traffic alerts, route changes, rest stops, and hotels keep you informed without the need for device fumbling.

In an emergency, Android Automotive can call 911 or provide location information to first responders. This can be integrated with vehicle sensors and driver monitoring, making the response instant. 

Wireless connectivity

Similar to your smartphone, Android Automotive provides regular updates through cloud services. It supports Wi-Fi connectivity to connect to local Wi-Fi networks for software updates and enhanced app functionality. Hands-free calling, audio streaming, phone calls, text messaging, and app mirroring are all enabled through Bluetooth.

Certain vehicles offer remote vehicle control with a smartphone app. You can lock, unlock, and locate your vehicle remotely from anywhere as long as you can access the internet.

Advanced driver assistance

ADAS features are fast becoming the tech to have in your car. Driver and blind spot monitoring, sensors, night vision, and traffic jam assistance are some driver assistance features that can be integrated with Android Automotive.

OEMs implementing their software is also vital for the Android ecosystem and consumers. You get more features, and BMW gets to add lane-keeping to its X6. Self-driving is the first thing that comes to mind when people think of ADAS, and the more consistent and intuitive these systems are, the better. A single base that manufacturers can modify is the best implementation to achieve this.

Accessibility

Accessibility is essential for colorblind drivers and those with auditory/visual impairments. Haptic feedback makes it easier to access touchscreen features without distracting you from the road. So you don’t need an impairment for these features to be helpful.

Connectivity and integration in Android Automotive

Connectivity is becoming increasingly important. What if you need to access your ring doorbell while on holiday or ensure a package gets delivered to your house, not your nosy neighbor? You can’t look at your phone while driving, so the best way to do this is through your car.

App ecosystem

Third-party app support is a must in today’s connected world. Android Automotive gives you access to your favorite apps through the Google Play Store. Car-integrated features like voice control make these apps easy to control without taking your hands off the wheel. You can even access games and movies when your vehicle is stopped.

Integration with Google Services

You can link up your Google account and access all your photos, calendar dates, and messaging apps. Android Automotive doesn’t integrate Apple’s ecosystem, but if you’re an iPhone user, you can use Apple CarPlay.

Integration with smart homes

Need to get the mood right, but you’re thousands of miles away? Android Automotive can control features like A/C, surveillance, and lights with your smart home hub. Geofencing means you can trigger these features when you’re in or leaving the vicinity of your house. 

Navigation

Do you need anything more in a car OS than navigation? Android Automotive allows you to access more than just Google Maps: real-time traffic updates, traffic camera alerts, lane guidance, and site discovery. Navigation with Android Automotive is more like a co-driver than just a map.

Android Automotive’s ever-expanding car list

Image Credit: Google

Acura

Audi

BMW

Cadillac

Chevrolet

Chrysler

Dacia

  • Dacia Duster (2024+)

Dodge

Fiat

  • Fiat 500

Ford

GMC

Honda

Lincoln

Lotus

  • Lotus Eletre
  • Lotus Emeya

Lucid

Lynk

  • Lynk & Co 01

Nissan

  • Nissan Rogue (2024+)

Polestar

Renault

  • Renault Austral
  • Renault Espace (2024+)
  • Renault Mégane E-Tech Electric
  • Renault Master (2024+)
  • Renault Rafale
  • Renault Scénic E-Tech (2025+)

Volvo

Alfa Romeo

  • Alfa Romeo Tonale

Maserati

Rivian

Togg

  • Togg T10X

Relation to Android Auto

Android Auto and iDrive.
Image Credit: BMW

Android Auto is constantly evolving. It has been around longer than Android Automotive and is available via aftermarket head units. So your favorite 2000s sports car, budget beater, or classic car can access modern maps and features. A great strategy for sustainable car use.

Key features of Android Auto

  • User-Friendly Interface: Large, easy-to-read icons and minimal distractions allow quick access while driving.
  • Phone Integration: You can conveniently make calls, access contacts, and see call history. All the usual phone features without the phone!
  • Home Screen Customization: You can customize the Android Auto home screen to access your favorite apps quickly.
  • Music: Music playback can be controlled via voice commands, steering wheel controls, or the touchscreen.

Connectivity and integration in Android Auto

Image Credit: Google

Entertainment

You can access your favorite music streaming services, like Spotify, and control playback through voice commands or the vehicle’s controls. Podcasts, audiobooks, and radio apps are also readily available.

Navigation

Android Auto leverages Google Maps for real-time traffic updates, turn-by-turn directions, and detailed route information. So it’s pretty much the same as your phone in the sense of navigation, without having to fumble through touchscreen menus.

The future of Android-based infotainment

Android Automotive and Android Auto will undergo remarkable advancements in the future. These systems will offer drivers and passengers more personalized, and intelligent experiences, focusing on safety. Strong competition is also arising as Apple further develops CarPlay.

So, we’ll keep you updated on everything there is to know about Android Automotive and Android Auto. Keep up!

Author

  • Nathan Meyer

    I woke up one day and decided to write. It feels like I recovered a deep treasure within myself. You'll meet people smarter, faster, stronger, more compassionate, more empathetic and more hard working than me. But you don't need any of those things to be a writer, you just need willpower. Like Luffy from One Piece, I have all the will.

Nathan Meyer
the authorNathan Meyer
I woke up one day and decided to write. It feels like I recovered a deep treasure within myself. You'll meet people smarter, faster, stronger, more compassionate, more empathetic and more hard working than me. But you don't need any of those things to be a writer, you just need willpower. Like Luffy from One Piece, I have all the will.