Android Auto vs Android Automotive: the differences

Android Automotive was created to overcome the limitations of Android Auto and is about to spread to dozens of different car models

Google continues to develop its Android Auto platform and continues to evolve it, introducing new features and fixing the various bugs that gradually pop up. Today there are already hundreds of car models with this technology (and with the competing Apple CarPlay) but, in the meantime, Google is working on something much bigger: Android Automotive.

The name is similar, but the substance is not: they are two very different technologies, with the second one making its debut in these months on the first cars, but that will land in a very few years on a large number of models, of almost all the major global automotive brands. What Android Auto and Android Automotive have in common, however, is the purpose: to offer the driver a simple man-machine interface, which creates few distractions and with which he can interact both through a touch screen and through voice commands. Android Automotive, however, will be able to do many more things than Android Auto.

Android Auto: what it is and how it works

Android Auto was born in 2015 as a communication platform between Android smartphones (at the time Android 5.0 Lollipop) and compatible cars. Basically, it is a software layer that is displayed on the screen of the car's infotainment system and allows you to use Android apps while driving. For example, to read a message received on WhatsApp and reply, to make and receive hands-free calls, to listen to Spotify music through the car stereo system. Android Auto today is available on over 400 models and versions of cars, but often compatibility with this platform is sold as an option. It should be noted, however, that Android Auto requires a connection to the infotainment system of a smartphone, or via wireless cable.

Android Automotive: what it is and how it works

Android Automotive, unlike Android Auto, does not add to the car's infotainment software but replaces it. To put it simply: it's a kind of operating system that can manage all the electronic devices that make up infotainment itself. That's why Android Automotive can do much more than Android Auto.

For example, it can manage air conditioning and heating (even seat heating, if the car is equipped with it). But it can also manage comprehensive driver profiles, so that every time a registered driver sits behind the wheel, the car proceeds to adjust the seat position, climate control, music volume, and all of the driver's preferred driving settings. Of course, then, Android Automotive can also do everything Android Auto does as well, via regular apps. Unlike Android Auto, though, Android Automotive doesn't require a smartphone to work.