Android Auto vs Android Automotive: What’s the difference?

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Welcome to SHIFT Basics, a collection of tips, explainers, guides, and advice to keep you up to speed with mobility tech.

There was a time when having an infotainment system and satellite navigation in your car was a luxury. Now, thanks in part to computer components being more affordable and open source mapping projects, in-car entertainment systems are far more common.

Advanced infotainment systems are so common they can create a bit of a learning curve when getting into an unfamiliar car. What’s more, in-car systems often lack features that are common on other pieces of tech, like popular entertainment apps.

Thankfully, there are solutions that aim to standardize the in-car experience and bring supreme functionality with less of a learning curve. In this article we’re going to take a look at two of those options: Android Auto and Android Automotive.

[Read: A really simple introduction to one-pedal driving]

Even though they have very similar names, they’re not exactly the same thing. Android Auto is the most common option right now, so let’s start there.

Android Auto

This one is pretty simple. To use Android Auto you need an Android-based phone and a compatible vehicle.

In short, Android Auto uses the functions of your phone and will display a new user interface on your car’s infotainment screen, which will let you access and control a host of entertainment features.

When it comes to your phone, Android Auto is built in if you have Android 10 or higher. For Android 5 to 9, you’ll need to download a dedicated app.

android, auto, app, logo
Credit: Android – Google