CarPlay & Android Auto

Image of CarPlay on a vehicle dashboard

With the recent change to the law regarding driving while using a mobile phone, the rules have changed and holding a mobile phone when driving can lead to an expensive fine if you are caught.

The solution the car entertainment industry made was to have a version of your phone’s display available to you on the dashboard.

What is CarPlay?

CarPlay is Apple’s solution that brings certain apps to the dashboard, so you can make and receive calls, play music and navigate using mapping apps.

CarPlay can link to your iPhone using either a wired connection or through a combination of both bluetooth and wifi for a wireless connection.

When you aren’t driving, you can send and receive text messages and use WhatsApp, but the phone enters driving mode and hides these notifications to avoid distracting the driver when in motion.

Android Auto

Similar to Apple’s CarPlay there is Android Auto, which brings driving apps to the dashboard.

On older Android devices running software older than Android 10, there was Mirrorlink, which shared the phone’s display with the dashboard and you could control your phone through the Mirrorlink connection.

CarPlay and Android Auto are completely separate interfaces to your phone.

Mirrorlink and Screen mirroring

CarPlay and Android Auto provide separate interfaces to your phone, so you aren’t interacting directly with your phone.

Mirrorlink and Screen mirroring allow you to see a bigger version of your phone’s screen, albeit in read-only – you can only use your phone’s screen to interact with the display.

AirPlay and Bluetooth audio

AirPlay is Apple’s audio and video playback system which uses wifi for higher quality and can be used to play video to a display in a vehicle, ideal for kids watching movies.

Bluetooth only supports audio playback, which can be used to play music through your vehicle’s speakers from your phone through the dashboard.

Aftermarket head units

While modern vehicles have touch screen displays in the dashboard, older vehicles lack that ability so the aftermarket head unit can provide the same functionality. You typically remove the existing stock radio and replace it with an aftermarket head unit with these new features.

Some vehicles use CANBUS to connect to the entertainment system so a decoder box may be necessary to turn the unit on and off, as well as provide control form the vehicle.

Some manufacturers have a dashboard that has integrated controls so an aftermarket unit just isn’t possible, there may be a unit available through the dealership but will be expensive to fit to older vehicles.

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