Is having Apple CarPlay or Android Auto important?

Is having Apple CarPlay or Android Auto important?

Apple CarPlay

These days, you’ll find that the infotainment systems in some cars support Android Auto (AA) and/or Apple CarPlay (AC). In the past few months, we’ve seen mass-market models like the Toyota Corolla and Honda HR-V be updated to include the feature, while several premium cars already come with it.

For those who are already using the feature on either platform, you’ll probably have some good things to say about it, so carry on. However, if you’ve never had the chance to try it out and are curious about what the fuss is all about, and if it’s even important, we’re here to try and bring you up to speed.

What is Android Auto and Apple CarPlay?

In essence, AA/AC takes a few existing features from your smartphone and mirrors them on a car’s head unit or infotainment system. This is very different from another form of mirroring like Miracast, which merely duplicates whatever is shown on your phone’s screen.

With AA/AC, you get a specific interface with a standard layout and quick access to things like your phonebook, Google Maps, Apple Music, Spotify, etc. Unlike Miracast, supported apps are readily available on your car’s display without having to fiddle with your phone to find what you want.

As an additional note, some systems do come with WebLink, which also “projects” compatible apps onto the car’s display, although the experience isn’t as cohesive as AA/AC and could differ depending on the manufacturer.

Is having Apple CarPlay or Android Auto important?

Android Auto

If you have an iPhone 5 running iOS 7.1, or anything newer, Apple CarPlay already comes installed by default. As for Android Auto, it is baked into the Android 10 and 11, so any device running those operating systems will have the functionality.

For phones that are running on older operating systems before Android 10, you’ll have to install Android Auto separately, which unfortunately, can’t be done though Google Play Store for our market. However, you can download the relevant Android application package (APK) and install Android Auto manually, but make sure you get the file from trusted sources.

How do I get either to work?

For a majority of systems, AA/AC interfaces with your car via a wired USB connection and will typically launch automatically or give you a prompt when you plug your phone in. You can also establish a wireless connection, although you’ll first need to check if your system supports it.

Should your car not come with an infotainment system that supports AA/AC, you’ll have to check with the manufacturer to see if there’s a retrofit solution available, like what Bermaz Auto offers for selected Mazda cars.

Alternatively, there are also aftermarket head units with AA/AC worth considering, although you’ll want to make sure that getting one fitted will not interfere with your car’s warranty, if it still applicable.

These head units typically take up a double-DIN slot to accommodate their touchscreen displays, and costlier examples even support wireless connectivity. You’ll also want to make sure you find a shop that can properly install it, preferably without having to splice your car’s existing wiring. Do take note that some head units are merely Android-based, meaning they run the operating system on-device, and might not support AA.

If going absolutely wireless is something you want, but you don’t want to spend more on a head unit that supports it, or if you current infotainment system only supports a wired connection, there are also dedicated USB dongles like Carlinkit that can provide this functionality; make sure that it is compatible beforehand.

I’m connected. What are the benefits I’m going to enjoy?

With AA/AC, you can use many of the features that you are already familiar with on your phone. For instance, you can get turn-by-turn navigation on Google Maps, play music from Spotify, listen to your favourite podcast, or even ring someone up. Both also have their respective digital assistants like iOS’ Siri and the Google Assistant, so you can say trigger phrases (Hey, Siri or OK, Google) and issue commands using your voice.

Since all the data is supplied from your phone, you will benefit from real-time information like the current traffic situation. Thanks to the updates that your phone gets from time to time for apps, AA/AC and the operating system, your interior is kept fresh with the latest features.

Considering most car screen user interfaces won’t age well (just look at the cars from five years ago), having a self-updating UI through AA/AC goes a long way in keeping your in-car entertainment from feeling old and outdated.

Apple CarPlay main dashboard (left), Android Auto (right)

This is certainly a benefit compared to some infotainment systems that need to be updated at the service centre, which could also require new hardware to be added in like an LTE module for further functionality. Of course, certain cars already have built-in systems that are linked to the internet, providing you with a range connected services and over-the-air updates (OTA).

That’s good if you have the time to set it all up, but since a lot of your life is already in your smartphone, having what you’ve already set up presented on-screen after a simple connection does seem a lot more convenient. Truthfully, how many of you have actually used your car’s infotainment system to navigate to a restaurant? It’s mostly Google Maps or Waze, right?

It should also be noted that the more advanced and connected systems are typically found in premium vehicles that cost more. With AA/AC, as long as you have a compatible head unit or infotainment system, you already have access to the available features, with the phone doing all the heavy lifting.

Why not just fit my phone on a mount and use it as-is?

Fair point, but using your phone with a mount still limits you in terms of ease of accessibility. It’s certainly more of a hassle trying to access certain functions using smaller on-screen buttons on a phone’s screen that is comparatively smaller than your car’s display.

By comparison, with AA/AC, features can be accessed through your car’s display (or voice activation) via a simplified user interface without reaching for your phone. The larger on-screen buttons also help to reduce the chance of accidentally pressing the wrong thing and causing you to spend more time backtracking.

Apple CarPlay app drawer (left), Android Auto (right)

Furthermore, there’s no need to have a hanging phone like a Grab driver, as you can just plug your phone in and keep it out of sight. This also makes you less likely to want to pick up or lean towards your phone to reply messages when a notification comes in.

On that mention, with AA/AC, you can have messages read to you and even issue a reply using your voice. It’s certainly handy, although based on my personal experience with the function on AA, our Malaysian slang does result in some humourous voice typing, so your mileage may vary. Putting on an omputih slang does help somewhat though.

Can I use AA/AC without a head unit?

For Android users that do not have (or want) a head unit or infotainment system compatible with Android Auto, your alternative is the Google Driving Assistant Mode found in Google Maps, which lets you run a “lite version” of Android Auto on your phone.

You won’t get the big screen experience as with AA, but you’ll still get to enjoy easy-to-touch buttons for key features, if you insist on a mount. Sadly, if you’re an iOS user, Apple CarPlay can now be shown on your phone’s display; it needs a compatible head unit or infotainment system to work.

Is having Apple CarPlay or Android Auto important?

Good luck asking Google Assistant to find you some ice kacang

Is having Apple CarPlay or Android Auto that important?

With AA/AC, you will get to enjoy many of the features you frequent on your phone in your car, but presented in a way that is easier to access and somewhat safer. So, it is important if you want a significant improvement in terms of utility over conventional infotainment systems that can be limited in terms of functionality.

Put simply, it’s a feature that brings a lot of benefits and when choosing a new car, options that offer AA/AC have a major advantage. Should you have the chance to get it, it’s certainly worth it. You can still get by without it, for sure, but having everything you frequently use in an easy-to-access space does make life easier.

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Gerard Lye

Originating from the corporate world with a background in finance and economics, Gerard’s strong love for cars led him to take the plunge into the automotive media industry. It was only then did he realise that there are more things to a car than just horsepower count.



  • They are as good as my nephew’s Samsung Tab with Kids Mode.
    Made for kids UI/UX.

    So much dated compared to Tesla spec and features.
    Put an Android Flagship Tablet can get more Features and Multitasking.
    Or at Least iPad kosong also better than the slowly catching up Apple CarPlay.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 16 Thumb down 31
    • The whole point of AA/AC is to project a simple, distraction free UI to control your maps, media and calls while driving.

      It’s not supposed to be full-featured with multi-tasking.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 2
  • Semi-Value (Member) on Sep 06, 2021 at 7:54 pm

    VERY – directing this to PROTON

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 20 Thumb down 4
  • Ruslan Bahari on Sep 06, 2021 at 8:10 pm

    Fair comment, but only if you need to have all that’s on your phone accessible in the car, or 24-7. Which is why for me, it isn’t the deal breaker. I am happy to just have the phone connected as a basic phone….

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 5
    • lithium on Sep 07, 2021 at 10:59 am

      having a phone + andriod auto/car play is a distraction. when you drive, you are operating a rather large machine, so you should be concentrating on driving and not busy fiddling with a touch screen, reading messages, replying message with voice command etc.

      all this mad rush for connectivity seems to make people forget that safety and being aware of your surrounding is more important on the road. that whatsapp message, sms or whatever can just wait till you reach your destination.

      people aren’t rational or sensible so when you make such features available they will not use it wisely. look at those taking a nap while the tesla was zooming on the highways.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 6
      • Hi to be honest, I have been using carplay for 1 year already and i have only used them to open waze, spotify and pick up calls. there is no need for you to fiddle around the screen while driving.

        I do not feel to pick up my phone to see anything since everything is available there on the big screen (the navigation/calls/change music) which really helps me to focus more on driving.

        You can actually select the apps that you actually want to use on the big screen and hide others that are distracting. You can also disable all notifications accept for phone calls while driving.

        Technology is great, we just have to use it wisely. I fully support all invention which benefits humankind way forward.

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 0
  • Bameer on Sep 06, 2021 at 10:50 pm

    YES YES YES!…if let say AA or AC is not ur cup of tea…plug in a android dongle to get full android experience…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0
  • Brian on Sep 06, 2021 at 11:00 pm

    Still talking about AA? It is fast going out the door

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 4
    • Not true. That’s Android Auto for phone screens, not the one that runs in the car. Now that all major car makers support Android Auto in the car, there’s little need for the phone-based version.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0
  • Sgt Scoop on Sep 06, 2021 at 11:17 pm

    It’s a deal breaker for me. I was considering a 5 series until I discovered they don’t have Android Auto, only Carplay.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0
  • normal_user on Sep 06, 2021 at 11:55 pm

    Yes definitely. As a Civic fc owner, I appreciate the direction & leftover distance counter that appear in the center digital display when using Waze & Google Maps. It’s just that when using Waze & approaching a roundabout, a weird sharp u-turn symbol appears. Any FC owners face the same issue?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0
  • Firdaus ck on Sep 07, 2021 at 1:52 am

    Essential! I’m using it with civic fc. Using voice to call someone/to get direction to anywhere and get the turn-by-turn navigation on the speedometer console is really2 useful and helps me keep focus on the road.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0
  • rattlesnake on Sep 07, 2021 at 5:26 am

    To me this is very important. I would love to have any of the new geely based protons but the lack of AA is such a deal breaker that I’m not even considering it. Even though it has quite a lot of tech.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0
  • Alihms on Sep 07, 2021 at 9:00 am

    If you have multiple routes from home to work, it is particularly useful. Back before MCO, I turned on Android Auto everyday even for my daily commute. AA traffic notification is so useful that I have on my occasions avoided getting stuck on traffic jams /accidents and arrived on time.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 1
  • Installed it on my 2008 SWIFT and it does wonder. I could also listen to internet radio which give you more crisp audio experience. Was worth the money. brand: Kenwood DMX5020. Strongly recommend P1/P2, all carmakers putting it as a must have feature.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1
  • LAwrence on Sep 07, 2021 at 11:54 am

    Its really mind boggling to learn that Android Auto is not officially supported in Malaysia

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0
  • Why push for something that is not officially supported in our region. Without formal support from Google, there is no updates & security patches, using AA here is like using pirated software so can we be assured there won’t be security issues and data theft?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0
  • farghmee on Sep 07, 2021 at 2:57 pm

    i’m using AC for navigation. very good function.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0
  • Installed the aftermarket one which has the Apple carplay support. It is impressive. My old car feels new again with this apple carplay. I believe all the cars should be fitted with this apps since everyone is using smart phone now and navigate using mobile. so this mobile extension to a big screen is an essential assistance.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0
  • Steve on Sep 07, 2021 at 4:50 pm

    I’m using a Joyeauto Carplay MMB for extra connectivity. AA/AC are good but limited in functionality. The Joyeauto uses both Bluetooth tethering & wifi hotspot to provide full internet connectivity . Im able ble to download apps from Google Play. Watch YouTube, Netflix, read or send emails, use mapping with the supplied GPS kit, order food , book a car service etc. Most of these can only be used when the car isn’t being driven. The MMB is not perfect , but it’s a heck of a lot better than the fairly basic infotainment systems in cars here & the fairly basic services that we use here compared to other OS countries .

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0
  • AC/AA on Oct 09, 2021 at 10:33 pm

    Hi all, quick question. Would the display depends on which device the car is being plug on, i.e. when it is connected to an iphone, it will show AC and connected to a android phone it will show as AA or it can only choose either one?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0
  • Mike C on Oct 09, 2022 at 3:17 pm

    I drive a Peugeot 3008 2018 model. It comes with AA and Car play. Only recently Japanese makes are fitting these. Using the built in set is so easy when you are familiar with it after some time. No distraction at all.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

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