Apple CarPlay/Android Auto

Apple CarPlay/Android Auto
Connectivity means officer safety.
By Police Fleet Manager Staff
Telemetrics has found its way into police departments, with the automatic transmission of data from police vehicle cameras and body-worn cameras to servers inside the police department. While touchscreens in vehicles and applications for those screens (maps, radio) have been available for some time, applications such as CarPlay and Android Auto increase officer safety even more by minimizing distractions so officers can stay focused on the road. Most major automobile manufacturers currently offer models that support CarPlay or Android Auto or they are planning to introduce them.
“Connectivity is an important part of officer safety,” LAPD Chief of Police Charlie Beck told Ford’s Police Advisory Board. “Connectivity and telemetrics are the future for our police vehicles. We need to leverage that. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are the start.”
Apple CarPlay and Android Auto systems are designed to help you access more of your phone’s features and take advantage of your device’s Internet connection and essentially mirrors the main applications from your cell phone to your car’s touchscreen. You literally “connect” your phone by hardwire plugging it into the screen using a USB cable.
The two systems are similar—they’re both “casted” interfaces that process and render a computing environment on a smartphone and then send that interface to the car display, basically using it as an external touchscreen monitor. Both systems feature voice recognition and the ability to integrate the data from your phone with your car. However, CarPlay and Android Auto take different approaches to the system user-interface and home screen design, and this affects the entire way you use each device.
CarPlay features Siri voice control and is specially designed for driving scenarios. Siri can read, reply, and send text messages so you never have to look at your phone while driving. CarPlay can also play audio messages through the car’s speakers. CarPlay also works with your car’s controls: knobs, buttons, touchpad, or touchscreen. And the apps themselves have been reimagined for the car, so you can use them while your eyes and hands stay where they belong.
For example, if a calendar entry in your phone says you have a meeting across town, that information is automatically sent from your device to your car where it will give you the option to start navigating to that location without requiring you to punch in the address again.
When it comes to the mapping features, Android Auto borrows Google’s “cards” interface and uses Google Maps for navigation while Apple CarPlay uses an interface that’s easily recognizable as iOS.
CarPlay is basically the iOS smartphone/tablet interface, but enlarged and simplified for car usage. So if you know how to use your iPhone, you won’t have any problems here. The biggest change is the status bar, which morphed into a side-mounted (vertical instead of horizontal) bar showing the time, connectivity and the on-screen home button. The app icons are big, bright, obvious and easy to hit.
Other than the name, Android Auto doesn’t look much different from the way its smartphone screens look. Android’s bottom system bar, which normally only houses the back, home and recent navigation buttons, is now a tabbed interface for the various sections of Android Auto.
Rather than the standard apps with icons that whisk you away to a new location in the software, Android Auto is broken up into five sections. With no app grid on Android Auto, the screen (accessed by the circle button) is a dashboard of what’s going on right now. Imagine Android’s notification panel as a homescreen. To use Android Auto on your car’s in-dash display, you’ll need an Android Auto compatible vehicle or aftermarket stereo, an Android phone running 5.0 (Lollipop) or higher, and the Android Auto app. Over 400 compatible car and aftermarket stereo models are available right now, with more on the way.
You can see navigation directions, suggested navigation locations, recent calls and messages and even weather information. CarPlay has no “ongoing notification” system to let you know about currently playing music or the upcoming navigation directions, so it handles both issues in two different ways. If you are currently navigating in Apple Maps, an icon will pop up on status bar on the left side of the screen. Android Auto’s bottom bar is always on the screen, which makes it easy to navigate the system. You usually can get from any major section (or specific app) to any other major section with a single tap.
Apple’s CarPlay’s attachment to the smartphone model means switching tasks takes an extra step—you first have to first press the home button to see the list of app icons, then you press an app icon. Once you fill up the main screen with apps (out of the box there is one free slot), CarPlay’s home screen will paginate, so sometimes you end up with a third step of swiping through pages. Third-party apps get sorted alphabetically and can’t be customized, so it can be annoying if your favorite app ends up on page two or three.
Third-party apps are available on both platforms, but both vendors lock down the phone and map apps to their own solutions and both let third parties make audio apps. Google takes the added step of letting app developers plug into the voice system for text messages.
Is one system better than the other? Calling CarPlay and Android Auto “competitors” doesn’t really make sense. Everyone is locked into their own ecosystem. You will need an Android phone for Android Auto and an iPhone for CarPlay. Only certain cars support certain interfaces.
They’re both trying to accomplish the same thing, and both do a great job of bringing a familiar, good-looking interface to your car dashboard… All the while, helping keep officers safer while in their vehicles. 

Published in Police Fleet Manager, Nov/Dec 2017

Rating : Not Yet Rated

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