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Android Auto and CarPlay: A Fierce Battle for Dominance

TL;DR: Android Auto and CarPlay face challenges as carmakers develop in-house software. Google’s Android Automotive gains traction, while Apple’s CarPlay 2.0 faces delays and limited adoption. Apple’s automotive strategy revolves around CarPlay and Apple Maps, but the company seems to be losing ground to Google in this battle.

Android Auto and CarPlay, much like Android and iOS, are long-time rivals vying for nearly the same audience. Sometimes, they even serve as the primary reason for purchasing a specific phone model.

Similar Features and Interface

Both Android Auto and CarPlay offer comparable features, and since the Coolwalk update, they also provide a similar interface. This includes a multi-view screen that allows users to run multiple apps side-by-side in a card-based layout.

Despite their obvious competition, Android Auto and CarPlay have been fighting together for the survival of phone mirroring systems.

GM’s Controversial Decision

Last year, General Motors announced that its future models would no longer offer Android Auto and CarPlay, as the company goes all-in on Android Automotive. This controversial strategy has already taken effect, with the 2024 Blazer EV blocking both systems.

GM hoped that more companies would follow suit. Thankfully, this isn’t happening.

The negative feedback from users disappointed with GM’s decision has prompted several carmakers, including Ford and Polestar, to reaffirm their commitment to Android Auto and CarPlay.

The Future of Android Auto and CarPlay

Based on the existing data, Android Auto and CarPlay are here to stay. However, as with everything else in any industry, the fight for the leading spot doesn’t solely depend on what happens in the present. It also involves the future and long-term strategies.

Google and Apple have already prepared significant updates for their platforms.

Unfortunately for Apple, it doesn’t appear that its plan is working.

CarPlay’s Adoption and Limitations

The current CarPlay version has enjoyed great adoption, with Apple’s data revealing that nearly eight in ten new-car buyers in the United States wouldn’t even consider a vehicle without the system.

However, Android Auto and CarPlay are starting to feel outdated. Despite the majority of new models coming with them (except for GM’s), users have begun to feel the need for more advanced capabilities.

Google and Apple’s Next-Gen Solutions

Google and Apple are ready to deliver these capabilities with Android Automotive and the new-generation CarPlay.

Android Automotive has been around for several years, and while its adoption has been slow, Google has already partnered with several high-profile carmakers to install the operating system in their cars. These partnerships will continue, and Google will expand the availability of AAOS to more vehicles, as it’s already discussing its adoption with other big names.

Meanwhile, Apple is struggling to prepare CarPlay 2.0 for prime time.

Apple’s Challenges with CarPlay 2.0

Apple announced the new-generation CarPlay with much fanfare in the spring of 2022, promising to release the first vehicle announcements by the end of 2023. These announcements came in the last days of the year, a clear indication that the work behind closed doors didn’t progress as expected.

Only two carmakers confirmed the adoption of CarPlay 2.0 – Aston Martin and Porsche, both exclusive carmakers whose cars aren’t aimed at the masses budget-wise.

To grow its user base, Apple needs carmakers with budget-friendly models to adopt CarPlay 2.0. The company has already boasted about a long list of carmakers planning to install CarPlay in their cars. However, so far, big names like Ford, Honda, and Toyota seem to be hesitating before offering the new-gen CarPlay.

Three Reasons Why Apple’s Strategy Could Fail

There are three reasons why Apple’s long-term CarPlay strategy could fail:

  1. Apple is late to the party. The repeated delays have significantly impacted the interest in the new-generation CarPlay, as it’s becoming increasingly clear that getting your hands on a car featuring the system might be impossible this year.
  2. Android Automotive is slowly gaining traction. General Motors, Volvo, Honda, Ford, Nissan, Renault, and others have already installed AAOS in their cars. Android Automotive can be installed with or without GAS, so carmakers can choose if they want Google’s services to power the system.
  3. Carmakers have become more committed to developing in-house software to offer a complete feature package. Mercedes has recently confirmed it wouldn’t use CarPlay because only an in-house operating system would be able to power the entire feature arsenal of its cars.

Apple’s Automotive Strategy

The demise of the Apple Car forced the iPhone maker to rethink its automotive strategy, so everything now revolves around CarPlay and Apple Maps.

CarPlay 2.0 is late to the party, and so is the detailed city experience – the big update that transforms Apple Maps into a fully featured Google Maps alternative.

Everything suggests that the Cupertino-based tech giant is losing the battle, and for some reason, Apple doesn’t seem concerned about it.

The next months will be critical for the future of CarPlay, not just from Apple’s perspective but also for its relationship with carmakers and their willingness to adopt the new-generation experience.


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