Android Auto Vs. Android Automotive: What’s The Difference?


What is Android Auto?

Android Auto is a popular mobile app developed by Google that allows seamless integration of your Android smartphone with your car’s infotainment system. With Android Auto, you can access various features and apps from your phone directly on your car’s dashboard, providing a safer and more convenient way to use your phone while driving.

Android Auto offers a simplified and driver-friendly user interface, designed to minimize distractions on the road. It provides easy access to essential features, such as navigation, music playback, hands-free calling, messaging, and more. The interface is designed to be intuitive, featuring large touch targets and voice commands to ensure that drivers can keep their eyes on the road and hands on the wheel.

One of the key advantages of Android Auto is its extensive app compatibility. It supports a wide range of popular apps, including Google Maps, Spotify, WhatsApp, Waze, and many others. These apps are adapted for use in the car, with simplified interfaces and optimized functionality to ensure a seamless and safe driving experience.

Android Auto also boasts excellent connectivity options. It can be connected to your car’s infotainment system either through a USB cable or wirelessly, depending on the capabilities of your car. This ensures that you can easily connect your phone and enjoy the features of Android Auto without any hassle.

It is worth noting that Android Auto is not an operating system itself, but rather an interface that runs on your smartphone and mirrors its display onto the car’s screen. This means that you will need an Android smartphone running Android 5.0 or higher to use Android Auto.

What is Android Automotive?

Unlike Android Auto, which relies on your smartphone to provide its functionality, Android Automotive is a standalone operating system specifically designed for use in car infotainment systems. It is a customized version of the Android operating system that is built directly into the vehicle’s hardware.

Android Automotive offers a more integrated and immersive experience compared to Android Auto. It provides a dedicated interface that is designed to seamlessly blend with the car’s dashboard and controls, offering a consistent and intuitive user experience. This means that you can access various features and apps directly from your car’s infotainment system without the need for a connected smartphone.

Android Automotive also offers a wider range of customization options for automakers. They have the freedom to tailor the user interface and functionality to their specific brand and model, allowing for a more unified user experience across their vehicle lineup. This level of customization extends to features like navigation systems, media players, climate controls, and more.

Another notable difference between Android Auto and Android Automotive is app compatibility. While Android Auto supports a select number of apps optimized for in-car use, Android Automotive is capable of running a wider range of apps directly on the infotainment system. This opens up opportunities for automakers and developers to create and integrate a more diverse set of applications specific to the automotive environment.

Integration with other devices is also a key feature of Android Automotive. With the help of built-in connectivity options, such as Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, Android Automotive can seamlessly connect and interact with other smart devices, such as smartphones, wearables, and home automation systems. This enables users to control and access their connected devices directly from their vehicle’s infotainment system.

It is important to note that Android Automotive is not as widely available as Android Auto. It is currently limited to a select number of vehicles from specific automakers, but it is expected to gain more traction in the market as automakers continue to embrace this advanced infotainment system.

User Interface

Both Android Auto and Android Automotive offer user-friendly interfaces designed to enhance the in-car experience. However, there are some differences in how the interfaces are presented and utilized.

Android Auto features a simplified and minimalist interface with large touch targets and intuitive navigation. The goal is to minimize distractions and provide quick and easy access to essential features and apps. The interface typically consists of a home screen with a navigation bar at the bottom, allowing users to switch between apps, access the Google Assistant, and control media playback.

On the other hand, Android Automotive provides a more integrated and customizable interface. Automakers have the flexibility to design the interface to align with their brand aesthetic and include specific features tailored to their vehicles. The interface is typically more comprehensive, offering additional functionalities such as climate controls, vehicle settings, and personalized dashboards. This level of customization allows for a more seamless and cohesive user experience throughout the entire driving experience.

Both Android Auto and Android Automotive utilize voice commands to facilitate hands-free operation and minimize distractions. Users can simply activate the voice command feature and issue commands, such as making calls, sending messages, or playing music, without needing to interact directly with the interface. This feature is particularly useful when driving, as it allows users to keep their hands on the wheel and their focus on the road.

Additionally, Android Automotive has the advantage of being able to support more complex voice commands. It can interact with the car’s advanced systems, allowing users to control various vehicle functions, adjust settings, and even inquire about vehicle-related information. This level of integration with the vehicle’s systems sets Android Automotive apart in terms of user interface functionality.

Overall, while both Android Auto and Android Automotive focus on providing user-friendly interfaces, Android Automotive offers more customization options and deeper integration with the vehicle’s systems, resulting in a more comprehensive and tailored user experience.


Connectivity is a vital aspect of both Android Auto and Android Automotive, ensuring seamless integration between your mobile device and your vehicle’s infotainment system. Let’s take a closer look at the connectivity options offered by both platforms.

Android Auto primarily relies on a wired USB connection to establish a link between your Android smartphone and your car. By connecting your phone to the car’s USB port, you can access Android Auto’s features and apps directly on the infotainment system. This connection not only charges your phone but also allows for data transfer, ensuring a stable and reliable connection throughout your drive. However, it’s important to note that not all vehicles support wireless Android Auto connectivity, and a wired connection may be required.

On the other hand, Android Automotive offers more flexibility when it comes to connectivity options. Depending on the capabilities of your vehicle, you may have the option to connect your smartphone wirelessly to the car’s infotainment system. This wireless connection eliminates the need for a physical cable and allows for a more convenient and clutter-free experience. However, it’s worth noting that wireless Android Automotive connectivity is still relatively new and may not be available in all vehicles that support the platform.

In addition to smartphone connectivity, both Android Auto and Android Automotive offer integration with other devices and systems. They support Bluetooth technology, allowing you to connect your phone wirelessly for audio streaming, hands-free calling, and messaging. This ensures that you can stay connected and enjoy your favorite media while on the go.

Moreover, Android Auto and Android Automotive provide compatibility with other smart devices, such as wearables and home automation systems. Through built-in Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connectivity, you can connect and control these devices directly from your vehicle’s infotainment system. Whether it’s adjusting your smart home’s temperature or receiving notifications from your smartwatch, the connectivity features of both platforms enhance the overall driving experience.

It’s important to consider that the connectivity options available may vary depending on your vehicle’s make and model. While both Android Auto and Android Automotive offer various connectivity features, it’s recommended to check with your vehicle manufacturer to ensure compatibility and determine the optimal method of connecting your devices.

App Compatibility

App compatibility is a crucial factor to consider when comparing Android Auto and Android Automotive. While both platforms provide access to apps, there are some differences in terms of the range of supported applications.

Android Auto supports a growing number of apps that have been optimized for in-car use. These apps include popular navigation apps like Google Maps and Waze, music streaming apps such as Spotify and Pandora, messaging apps like WhatsApp and Telegram, and even various audio book and podcast apps. These apps are designed to display and function in a simplified and driver-friendly manner, ensuring minimal distraction while on the road.

However, it’s important to note that not all smartphone apps are compatible with Android Auto. Google has strict guidelines for app developers to ensure safety and usability while driving. So, while Android Auto offers a wide variety of apps, the selection is curated to guarantee a smooth and seamless user experience.

On the other hand, Android Automotive has a broader range of app compatibility. As a standalone operating system, Android Automotive can support more complex applications compared to Android Auto. This means that automakers have the opportunity to work with app developers to create customized apps that are specifically designed for the automotive environment. These apps can include functionalities such as vehicle diagnostics, advanced navigation systems, and other vehicle-specific features. The goal is to provide a more comprehensive and integrated experience within the infotainment system.

While the potential for specialized apps is higher with Android Automotive, it is worth noting that the availability of these apps may depend on the automaker’s collaboration with app developers. The selection of supported apps can vary between different vehicle models and brands, and it may take time before a wide range of compatible apps becomes available.

Overall, both Android Auto and Android Automotive offer app compatibility, with Android Automotive having the potential to support a more diverse range of apps due to its standalone operating system. Android Auto provides a curated selection of apps optimized for the driving experience, while Android Automotive offers the possibility for automakers to create customized and tailored applications for their vehicles.

Supported Vehicles

When it comes to supported vehicles, there are some differences between Android Auto and Android Automotive. Let’s explore which types of vehicles each platform is compatible with.

Android Auto is designed to be compatible with a wide range of vehicles, both new and older models. It provides a solution for those who want to enhance their current vehicle’s infotainment system with modern smartphone integration. Android Auto can be used in most cars that have a compatible infotainment system and a USB port. Some automakers even offer Android Auto as a standard feature in their new vehicle models.

However, it’s important to note that while Android Auto can be utilized in various vehicles, the level of integration and functionality may vary depending on the make and model. Some vehicles may offer a more seamless and integrated experience, allowing for additional features such as displaying vehicle data or controlling certain vehicle settings directly from the Android Auto interface.

On the other hand, Android Automotive is specifically designed to be built directly into the hardware of the vehicle’s infotainment system. This means that Android Automotive is typically available in newer and more advanced vehicles that come with built-in compatibility. As of now, Android Automotive is primarily supported by select automakers, such as Volvo and Polestar. These vehicles come with the Android Automotive operating system pre-installed, providing a fully integrated experience without the need for a smartphone connection.

It’s worth noting that the availability of Android Automotive may expand in the future as more automakers adopt the platform. However, it is likely to be limited to certain vehicle models and brands rather than being universally available in all vehicles.

Customization Options

Customization options are an important consideration when comparing Android Auto and Android Automotive. While both platforms offer some level of customization, there are differences in the extent to which users can personalize their in-car experience.

Android Auto provides limited customization options due to its nature as a smartphone-based platform. Users can personalize the appearance of Android Auto’s interface by choosing between a light or dark theme and adjusting some display settings. However, the overall customization options are relatively limited when it comes to modifying the layout or adding personalized widgets or shortcuts.

On the other hand, Android Automotive offers more extensive customization options. Automakers have the flexibility to design and customize the infotainment system’s interface according to their brand’s guidelines and user preferences. This means that the overall look and feel of the interface can be tailored to create a cohesive and branded experience. Additionally, automakers can choose to include specific features or design elements that align with their vehicle models.

With Android Automotive, users may have more control over personalizing the interface. They may be able to customize the home screen layout, widget placements, and even create personalized profiles for individual drivers. This level of customization allows users to create a more personalized and unique in-car experience that matches their preferences and needs.

Moreover, Android Automotive provides options for advanced customization of other vehicle-related settings and features. Automakers can integrate various vehicle-specific controls, such as climate controls, seat adjustments, and other vehicle settings, directly into the infotainment system’s interface. This level of integration ensures a seamless and unified experience where users can access and customize various vehicle functions from a centralized location.

It’s important to note that the extent of customization options available in Android Automotive may vary depending on the automaker and the specific vehicle model. While some automakers may offer extensive customization features, others may provide a more standardized experience across their vehicle lineup.

Overall, Android Automotive provides more flexibility and opportunities for customization compared to Android Auto. Users can expect a more tailored and personalized in-car experience with Android Automotive, thanks to the ability of automakers to design and customize the interface to meet their brand and user preferences.

Integration with other devices

Integration with other devices is an important aspect to consider when comparing Android Auto and Android Automotive. Both platforms offer connectivity options to seamlessly connect and interact with other smart devices, enhancing the overall in-car experience.

Android Auto supports integration with various devices through its built-in Bluetooth and Wi-Fi capabilities. This allows users to connect and play audio wirelessly from their smartphones or tablets, stream music from compatible apps, and even control media playback using their connected devices. Additionally, users can make hands-free calls and send messages using voice commands through their connected devices, further enhancing safety and convenience on the road.

Android Auto also supports integration with wearable devices, such as smartwatches. With this feature, users can receive notifications, control music playback, and even access certain app functionalities directly from their wrist. This integration allows users to stay connected even when their smartphones are not readily accessible.

Android Automotive takes integration with other devices a step further. With its more advanced capabilities, Android Automotive can connect and interact with various external devices and systems beyond smartphones and wearables. This includes integration with home automation systems, allowing users to control smart home devices, adjust thermostats, or even receive real-time information from connected home systems directly on the vehicle’s infotainment system.

Additionally, Android Automotive facilitates integration with other connected car technologies. This means that users can seamlessly connect their vehicles to internet-of-things (IoT) devices, smart infrastructure, and even future technologies like autonomous driving systems. Android Automotive serves as a hub for integrating and controlling these different devices and systems, ensuring a connected and integrated driving experience.

It’s important to note that the integration capabilities may vary depending on the vehicle’s make, model, and the specific features offered by the automaker. While Android Auto offers a good level of integration with various devices, Android Automotive has the potential to provide deeper integration and more diverse connectivity options, thanks to its standalone operating system and advanced hardware integration.

Overall, both Android Auto and Android Automotive offer integration with other devices to enhance the in-car experience. Android Auto focuses on seamless integration with smartphones and wearables, while Android Automotive expands on this by integrating with a wider range of devices, including home automation systems and connected car technologies.

Voice Control

Voice control is a key feature offered by both Android Auto and Android Automotive, allowing users to interact with the infotainment system and perform various tasks without the need for manual input. Voice control not only enhances usability but also promotes safer driving by reducing distractions.

Android Auto provides users with a convenient and hands-free way to control their infotainment system using voice commands. By simply saying “Ok Google” or pressing the voice control button on the steering wheel or on the interface, users can initiate voice commands to perform a wide range of tasks. These tasks include making calls, sending messages, getting directions, playing music, and accessing apps. The system uses advanced voice recognition technology to accurately interpret the user’s commands and execute them accordingly.

Android Automotive takes voice control to the next level by integrating with the vehicle’s systems and offering more advanced functionalities. Users can control not just infotainment features but also vehicle-specific functions through voice commands. This may include adjusting climate control settings, changing seat positions, querying vehicle diagnostics, or even activating specific driving modes. Android Automotive leverages more advanced voice recognition capabilities and integrates with the vehicle’s sensors and systems to provide a comprehensive voice control experience.

Furthermore, both Android Auto and Android Automotive support natural language processing, allowing users to speak in a conversational manner instead of using specific command phrases. This makes voice control more intuitive and user-friendly, as users can interact with the system using everyday language.

It is important to note that the accuracy and effectiveness of voice control may vary depending on various factors such as ambient noise, accent, and pronunciation. While the systems strive to provide accurate results, there may be instances where users need to repeat or rephrase their commands to achieve the desired outcome.

Overall, voice control is a valuable feature offered by both Android Auto and Android Automotive, facilitating hands-free operation and ensuring a safer and more convenient driving experience. Android Automotive further enhances this capability by integrating with vehicle-specific systems, expanding the range of commands and functionalities available through voice control.

Performance and Stability

When it comes to performance and stability, both Android Auto and Android Automotive strive to provide a smooth and reliable user experience, but there are some factors to consider in terms of their performance and stability.

Android Auto focuses on running on your smartphone and projecting its interface onto the car’s infotainment system. This means that the performance of Android Auto can be influenced by your smartphone’s hardware and processing power. If you have a high-end smartphone with ample RAM and a powerful processor, you can expect smooth and responsive performance. However, if you have an older or less powerful smartphone, you may experience occasional lags or slower response times. It’s important to ensure that your smartphone meets the recommended specifications for running Android Auto smoothly.

On the other hand, Android Automotive is specifically designed to be a standalone operating system built into the vehicle’s infotainment system. This integration allows Android Automotive to be optimized for the specific hardware of the vehicle, resulting in a more stable and consistent performance. Since Android Automotive is not reliant on the processing power of a smartphone, it can provide a more robust and reliable user experience.

Moreover, as a standalone operating system, Android Automotive is designed to handle the demands of automotive environments, including temperature and vibration variations. This focus ensures the stability and performance of the system even in challenging conditions. Additionally, Android Automotive benefits from regular updates and optimizations from the automakers, further enhancing its performance and stability over time.

Both Android Auto and Android Automotive are designed with safety in mind. They incorporate features such as large touch targets and voice control to minimize driver distractions. However, it’s important to note that the performance and stability of the platforms can also depend on the specific vehicle’s hardware and software integration. Some vehicles may offer a more seamless and optimized experience, while others may experience occasional hiccups or compatibility issues.

Overall, while Android Auto’s performance can be influenced by the specifications of your smartphone, Android Automotive provides a more stable and optimized user experience by being a dedicated operating system built directly into the vehicle. Both platforms prioritize safety and strive to offer smooth and reliable performance, but the integration and design of Android Automotive give it an advantage in terms of stability and consistent performance.


The cost is an important factor to consider when comparing Android Auto and Android Automotive. Let’s examine the cost implications of both platforms.

Android Auto is generally a free platform to use. It is available to download from the Google Play Store and can be used with compatible Android smartphones and supported vehicles. Users do not have to pay any additional fees to access Android Auto’s basic features and integration. However, it’s worth noting that some apps and features within Android Auto may require a subscription or in-app purchases. For example, certain music streaming services or navigation apps may offer premium features that require a paid subscription.

On the other hand, Android Automotive is typically integrated into the vehicle’s infotainment system as a built-in operating system. The cost of Android Automotive is typically included in the overall cost of the vehicle itself. This means that users will need to consider the price of the vehicle and its features when evaluating the cost of Android Automotive. As a result, the cost of Android Automotive can vary significantly depending on the make, model, and features of the vehicle.

It’s important to note that Android Automotive may be more commonly found in newer and higher-end vehicles. These vehicles may come with additional features, technology, and higher price points. Depending on your budget and preferences, the cost associated with accessing the Android Automotive platform may need to be factored into your decision-making process.

Furthermore, the cost of ownership and maintenance should be taken into consideration. While Android Auto relies on the user’s smartphone, Android Automotive is built into the vehicle’s hardware and may require additional maintenance and software updates provided by the automaker. It’s important to understand the long-term cost implications, including potential upgrade fees or service charges associated with Android Automotive.