Android Auto vs Android Automotive

The use of smartphones has been observed to be on a constant rise among the car and truck drivers. A recent survey conducted by Zendrive revealed that 88% of the three million drivers under study used their phones for at least three and half minutes every hour¹. It reveals the potential rise in the popularity and connectivity of in-vehicle infotainment (IVI).

The current trend is the augmentation of third party applications with IVI, which will pave ways for the collection and sharing of data on vehicle sensors and events with third party applications. To make this possible, Google has been working on the amalgamation of standard IVI operating systems with their Android Automotive system, which is specifically designed to run on such vehicular IVI platforms.

In contrast to Android Auto, which only facilitate the integration of display of a few applications from smartphones on the vehicular IVI, the Android Automotive is designed to have access to the in-vehicle network (IVN) making possible the gain of diverse vehicular data (Pese et al., 2020)². The differences between Android Auto and Android Automotive from the user’s perspective are summarized here with respect to their applicability and adoption.


Android Auto

This system enables the user to use the features of his smartphone and integrate its display on his car’s infotainment screen allowing access and control to a range of infotainment features. To use it, a phone with Android 10 and a compatible vehicle is required. For phones with lower versions of Android, a specific application requires to be installed.

Android Auto is easy to use by just plugging in the phone and running the auto app, and is supported by a range of vehicle companies. The most prominent vehicle companies that support Android Auto include Toyota, Honda, Fiat, Ford, Citroen, Hyundai, Lamborghini, Ferrari and Koenigsegg³.

Android Auto when integrated with the vehicle, allows user to access various music oriented, navigation, podcasts, streaming and communication apps with hands free features with very simple usage just like phone.


Android Automotive

In this system, the infotainment system of the vehicle is fitted out with the Android Automotive, which is a totally specific version of Android developed dedicatedly for this purpose and hence no phone is required for it².

This system was introduced by Google in 2018 in partnership with a collaboration of Car manufacturers including Renault, Mitsubishi and Nissan. The Android Automotive was planned to be incorporated into millions of cars by these manufacturers in 2021². However, this is not entirely new because the Land Rover and Jaguar are already employing a BlackBerry based system.

The Android Automotive is a codebase operating system that enable the manufacturers of developing a dedicated operating system for their vehicles. Its additional difference from Android Auto is that it will not only facilitate the user with music, navigation and messages features, but will also enable him to control the vehicle centered functions like air conditioning, heating, speed control and steering, seat control and audio functioning.

The future of Android Automotive is complex as the car manufacturers are having their reservations over car and user’s data security. There is also a threat to users as the car can be entirely hijacked. However, Google has been focusing on augmenting the safety and security features and car manufacturers have agreed on data sharing and collaboration².

However, the future holds many possibilities for users based on the Android Automotive including economy and safety oriented driving control, home and garage based charging management system and insurance premium management system based on the driving data obtained through sensors. Moreover, information about driving behavior like speeding, maneuvering and braking can be obtained and controlled or customized.


Written by Sahil Lakhe

Engineer Sahil Lakhe writes about the differences regarding android auto and android automotive


1. Mandal, A. K., Panarotto, F., Cortesi, A., Ferrara, P. & Spoto, F. 2019. Static
analysis of Android Auto infotainment and on-board diagnostics II apps. Software:
Practice and Experience, 49, 1131-1161.

2. Pese, M., Shin, K., Bruner, J. & Chu, A. 2020. Security Analysis of Android Automotive.
SAE Int. J. Adv. & Curr. Prac. in Mobility, 2, 2337-2346

3. Mandal, A. K., Cortesi, A., Ferrara, P., Panarotto, F. & Spoto, F. 2018.
Vulnerability analysis of Android auto infotainment apps. Proceedings of the 15th ACM
International Conference on Computing Frontiers. Ischia, Italy: Association for
Computing Machinery.