Google has revealed the result of its work with more than 40 companies, announced in January as the Open Automotive Alliance.
Both platforms are built on the concept of allowing advanced connectivity and interoperability between a motorist’s phone and their car’s infotainment system.
Like CarPlay, Android Auto works in sync with a car’s existing infotainment system rather than replacing it.
The vehicle’s own system will operate as normal if no phone is present, but plug in an Android device and the dash interface will change to the Android Auto environment - essentially mirroring many of the phone’s functions.
Google may have the edge, however, because while Apple’s CarPlay connects exclusively with the iPhone and iPad, Android Auto will work with any device running Android across dozens of different manufacturers.
Android Auto’s crisp on-screen interface will be familiar to Android users, with design elements all borrowed from and building on the established look of Google’s mobile operating system.
The system’s suite of in-built apps include an extension of the popular Google Maps satellite navigation software, including live traffic updates and local landmark or business search.
Android Auto also features a Messaging function, again similar to CarPlay, which can read out messages and allow the user to dictate messages of their own.
Google’s own Play Music app is also featured, and Google has already announced support from third-party apps like Spotify, Pandora, Pocket Casts, Joyride, iHeart Radio, and Songza.
The system can be operated entirely by voice, although its functions can still be controlled by touch either through the screen or via the steering wheel.
Presenting the new system at Google’s I/O developer conference today, Android engineering and product bosses Patrick Brady and Andy Brenner highlighted the evolving nature of the system.
“All of the apps we see here are running on Andy’s phone, which means the experience gets better when he updates his apps or gets a newer, faster phone,” Brady said, as Brenner operated the system in a mocked-up car interior on the stage.
In the demo, Brenner demonstrated Android Auto’s ability to deliver useful information about nearby businesses, and then direct the driver to that address when told by voice to “navigate there”.
The technology’s partners, in alphabetical order, include: Abarth, Acura, Alfa Romeo, Audi, Bentley, Chevrolet, Chrysler, Dodge, Fiat, Ford, Honda, Hyundai, Infiniti, Jeep, Kia, Maserati, Mazda, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Opel, Ram, Renault, Seat, Skoda, Subaru, Suzuki, Volkswagen and Volvo.
Interestingly, the list includes a number of overlaps, with Honda, Hyundai and Volvo also supporting Apple’s CarPlay. This suggests the infotainment systems of those brands will support devices from both Apple and Android manufacturers.