Android Auto Vs Android Automotive: What’s The Difference?

Android Auto may be highly popular, but Google is fixing to replace it with Android Automotive which offers deeper integration with Google services.


Android Auto is already a part of more than 100 million cars around the world, but Google is working on different automotive software — unimaginatively named ‘Android Automotive’ — that it hopes will eventually be embraced by most automakers. It is slowly but surely replacing Android Auto in an increasing number of cars, and early adopters include some of the biggest names in the business, like Volvo, Audi, Lincoln, Renault, and Cadillac. Even the new Hummer EV will ship with Android Automotive, as will the upcoming Renault Magane E-Tech Electric, which just debuted in Berlin recently.

The number of auto companies ditching Android Auto in favor of Android Automotive keeps growing, with industry insiders predicting a bigger exodus as time passes. Polestar was one of the first brands to have wholeheartedly embraced Android Automotive, but it now has company in the form of several premiere auto brands from around the world. Alongside the aforementioned names, Ford and Stellantis are also fixing to go all-in on Android Automotive, which means at least some Jeep, Chrysler, Fiat, Citroen, and Peugeot models might ship with Android Automotive instead of Android Auto soon. That said, it is still a matter of speculation, as very little is known about which particular Stellantis brands will integrate the new platform in their cars, let alone which models will be the beneficiaries.

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While it is clear that Android Automotive is gaining momentum with every passing day, most folks are still unsure of what the platform really is and how it differs from Android Auto. For starters, unlike Android Auto, Android Automotive is a fully-featured operating system developed by Google in collaboration with Intel. It is more of a tweaked version of Android itself and, offers deeper integration with Google services, including Google Maps, Google Assistant, and Google Play. As such, it is not a fork or parallel development of Android but instead is based on the same codebase as the versions of Android shipped on phones and tablets. What that means in essence is that users don’t need an Android phone to use the new software, as Google services would already be pre-loaded in the car.

Android Automotive Will Be Able to Run Third-Party Apps

Of course, Google has been pushing for deeper integration with best-selling cars, and the Assistant-powered Fiat 500 is probably one of the best examples of that. As for Android Automotive, it is powered by the 3rd-generation Snapdragon Automotive Cockpit Platform and offers enhanced functionality and a more seamless experience compared to Android Auto. It also promises to be similar to the regular Android OS insofar as it will give automakers the freedom to customize it to their own liking. So in theory, each brand can have a different implementation of Android Automotive while offering full integration with Google services, just like Android smartphones. What’s more, it will also be able to run third-party apps, just like any Android device.

Google is betting big on Android Automotive and is pushing hard for it to replace Android Auto in the coming years. The company revealed earlier this year that the new Hummer EV will be one of the upcoming models to ship with Android Automotive, and in June, Lincoln confirmed that it is planning to use the platform in its upcoming vehicles as well. It’s anybody’s guess as to how the Android Automotive scene will evolve in the coming years, but it certainly promises to offer a more advanced and more seamless experience than Android Auto, which is something to look forward to.

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