Android Auto vs Android Automotive: the main differences explained

Android Auto has just been parked and its successor is already at the door. Android Automotive can do everything that its predecessor can do, but better, simpler and easier. In this comparison, we put the main differences between the two Android versions on the go side by side.

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Comparison: Android Auto vs Android Automotive

The two basically do the same thing, but the way they do this differs as day and night. In this Android Auto vs Android Automotive comparison, we try to explain this as clearly as possible. Tap the links below to go directly to that section of the article.

No phone needed

The main difference between Android Auto and Android Automotive is obvious. The former is technically nothing more than a smartphone app, while Android Automotive is ‘built-in’ in your car. If you want to use Android Auto, you need a paired smartphone.

With a car with Android Automotive you can omit this, because the car has its own operating system. You don’t need a USB cable either, because everything works wirelessly.

Android Auto

Android Automotive is more comprehensive

This also ensures that Automotive is much more extensive than Android Auto. The car control system is like a common thread in the car and is in close contact with all kinds of sensors, for example. This means that the system knows, for example, how far the range of your electric battery still extends and when you need to find a charging station.

In order to build on this, other apps also take the unique characteristics of your car into account. Consider, for example, Google Maps. While planning a trip, the navigation service keeps the (remaining) range of your car in mind and offers suggestions for recharging at tactical places. For example, it is not always necessary to fully charge the battery of your car, because the next charging station is relatively close.

Of course, Android Automotive can do everything that Android Auto can do. Making phone calls, sending and reading WhatsApp messages, listening to music and navigating is all no problem. In addition, Automotive, like Android Auto, works closely with the Google Assistant. So you can operate the infotainment system on the go with just your voice.

→ Read also: Update: Google Maps will take charging times of electric cars into account

Own apps

Android Auto is an extension of your smartphone, while Android Automotive stands on its own two feet. Developers must therefore create separate apps for the latter, as Automotive has its own Play Store.

On the one hand, that’s nice, because app builders are not limited by the (im) possibilities of smartphones. On the other hand, this also works up blockages. After all, the success of Android Automotive stands or falls (partly) with the range of apps. When few apps are available, the car operating system never reaches its full potential.

→ Also interesting: Guide: These are the 9 best apps for Android Auto


Another important difference between Android Auto and Android Automotive is the support. Currently you can use Android Auto in hundreds of cars from various manufacturers. After all, the entry conditions are foreseeable. You need a supported car, a smartphone with the Android Auto app (which has been pre-installed since Android 10) and a cable to connect the phone to your car.

Android Automotive has a much higher threshold. After all, the system is a fundamental part of the car and cannot be used or removed just like that. This is also evident from the number of cars with Android Automotive, because currently the list does not extend further than the Polestar 2 and XC40 from Volvo.

There is hope on the horizon for Android Automotive. For example, Google and Ford will join forces from 2023 to automatically equip new cars from the manufacturer with the special Android version. General Motors, Cadillac and Chevrolet also have the ambition to switch to Android Automotive in the future.

Monthly Theme: Android Auto

Android Auto is incredibly popular and this month it stands Android Planet therefore completely dedicated to the Android version for on the go. From the best apps, guides to get Android Auto working to a look at the successor: everything will pass.

Don’t want to miss out on this monthly theme? Sign up for our newsletter, or download the free Android Planet app. You can leave suggestions for articles about Android Auto in the comments below this article, or send an email to

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