Drivers are rightly advised not to use their phones while driving. But given how much our lives are intertwined with mobile technology, it is becoming increasingly impractical not to use our smartphones for in-car navigation, music and communication.
So to help drivers use their smartphones safely, you can now pair your smartphone with the car’s infotainment system. And although having something like this is not the first thing car buyers are looking for, it has become an important feature that drivers want in a new car.
Today we will look at the three most popular smartphone integration systems and see which one is for you.
Google released this system in 2015 to mirror Android device features on your car’s infotainment and digital dashboard. It allows you to connect your Android phone to your car via USB or Bluetooth, depending on your car’s model year or the infotainment system you use.
When you connect your Android phone to Android Auto, your compatible apps will be displayed on the car’s infotainment screen. It also works with Google Assistant, so you can control it via voice commands.
Android Auto lets you use three types of apps – navigation, communication and entertainment. For navigation, you can use Google Maps and Waze. You can also use it to make calls, send text messages and chat via WhatsApp, Messenger and Telegram. When it comes to entertainment, Android Auto is compatible with Spotify, Google News and Google Play Books & Audiobooks.
In addition to these regular apps, you can too download apps in the Google Play Store optimized for Android Auto.
Android Auto is compatible with all smartphones running Android 6.0 Marshmallow and up. Before Android 12, you could even use your phone to run Android Auto. However, Android 12 lost this support in favor of Google Assistant driving modewhich requires that you have an Android Auto-compatible infotainment system on your car in order to use it.
One year before Google launched Android Auto, Apple released Apple CarPlay. This is similar to Google’s implementation – a system that integrates your iPhone with your vehicle’s infotainment system. It lets you see your apps and data on your car’s screen while letting the vehicle control your device.
iPhone 5, which runs iOS 7.1 or later, was the first phone that worked with it, and it has since been continuously supported until today. By 2023, Apple CarPlay will have evolved from just an infotainment system to a comprehensive mobile and image data management and display system.
This is because Apple plans to implement CarPlay on all vehicle screens, not just the infotainment system. This includes the digital dashboard, so you can switch between looking at your speed and speed and or your iPhone navigation.
Apple CarPlay lets you connect your iPhone in two ways – either via a wired USB-to-Lightning cable or wirelessly via BlueTooth. When your phone connects, you can start using CarPlay-compatible apps, which are displayed on the car’s infotainment screen. Prior to 2018, these were limited to Apple apps, such as Apple Maps and Apple Music. But with iOS 12, users can now use third-party apps like Google Maps, Waze and Spotify.
This car integration platform is the least known of the three by name, but it is probably the most popular when it comes to installation numbers. This is because this standard is owned by the Car Connectivity Consortium (CCC), whose members include most automakers, including Volkswagen, Toyota, Hyundai, Mercedes Benz and Chevrolet, to name a few. It is also the oldest of the three, after being launched by Nokia in 2011, and is the only one that is open source.
In the early to mid-2010s, if you wanted to connect your smartphone to your car, MirrorLink was the solid choice. It was supported on Nokia Symbian OS phones, as it was still a significant smartphone player, and Android. Some phone manufacturers that officially work with MirrorLink include HTC, LG, Samsung and Sony.
You can also install compatible apps on MirrorLink devices, so you can enjoy music and navigation in your car, among other things. However, you should note that you have fewer options on MirrorLink compared to Android Auto or Apple CarPlay.
This is because developers must submit their apps to the CCC for evaluation before they can work with the standard. This certification process, separate from the process they go through in the Google Play Store or Apple AppStore, is an additional step that developers need to take, which is why many choose not to go through it.
But because MirrorLink is an open source platform, some enterprising individuals have created solutions for apps like Spotify, which are powered by RockScout and are not made by the original developers.
Nevertheless, due to recent developments, including the demise of HTC and LG’s smartphone division, Samsung is officially losing support for the standard and Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are getting traction, MirrorLink is slowly being phased out of new vehicles.
Which should you choose?
Since MirrorLink is an old standard, with declining popularity and reduced app support, it is wise to get Android Auto or Apple CarPlay, especially if you are buying a new car. But if you’re looking at a used vehicle, especially one over five years old, you may have no choice but to stick to MirrorLink.
But if you are going to buy a new car, you should first look at your smartphone. Are you an Android or iPhone user? You should base your choice on the phone of the car’s primary driver. Also think about any plans you or the primary driver may have. Are you planning to switch to iPhone? Or will you buy an Android smartphone in the next few months?
Based on that information, this is when you ask the dealer if the car is Android Auto or Apple CarPlay compatible. Also note that some car models are compatible with both; so you may not even have to choose between the two.
Drive safely with your smartphone apps
These services – Android Auto, Apple CarPlay and MirrorLink – are useful to ensure you do not have to fiddle with your phone while driving. This feature helps you focus on driving because everything you need is within reach of your car’s infotainment system. It also helps to deliver information you need, such as navigation, in an easy-to-read way.
Although these are usually available on newer vehicles and in selected trim and models, you can install aftermarket infotainment systems that have them if your car does not have them. With it, you can enjoy safe smartphone interaction while sitting at the wheel without buying a new car.
#MirrorLink #Android #Auto #Apple #CarPlay