Android Auto vs. Android Automotive: What’s the Difference

Android Auto is an application that runs on phones and vehicle infotainment systems and provides many features that users safely access during driving. It connects your mobile with the head unit that is most compatible with Android Auto and mirrors the mobile with the head unit display. The mobile runs everything on the head unit display with a visual aspect appearance and audio components, such as music and phone calls coming via vehicle speaker. It projects the user experience through a USB connection in an in-vehicle infotainment system. It supports apps that are built for in-vehicle use.

Android Automotive is a basic android platform and operating system that directly runs on in-vehicle hardware. It is an open-source, highly customizable, and full-stack forum that powers the infotainment experience. Android Automotive installed on the vehicle head unit with the replacement of manufactured infotainment software. It supports applications that are built for Android and Android Auto.

This article will describe the main dissimilarity between Android Auto and Android Automotive.

Difference Between Android Auto and Android Automotive

There are many differences between Android Auto and Android Automotive some of them are stated here:

Android Auto

  • Android Auto runs on phones and interfaces with the head unit of vehicles.
  • Mostly available on new cars and trucks.
  • It requires the latest android phone such as Android 8 or newer
  • A head unit is required for android auto that is most compatible with Android Auto.
  • It works with different map applications.
  • In Android Auto, some functionalities are available through Google Assessment Driving Mode without a head unit connection.
  • It can use Google Maps, Waze, MapQuest, etc.
  • Android Auto must require a data plan or mobile hotspots.

Android Automotive

  • Directly run on a tablet or head unit.
  • It has a limited availability.
  • Android Automotive works with both Android and iPhone.
  • Integrated fully with vehicles.
  • It runs a limited number of mobile apps.
  • Navigation of Android Automotive is restricted to Google Maps.
  • Does not require a cable or Bluetooth connection.

Both Android Auto and Android Automation are based on android and provide a method to use phones in cars. The difference between them is that Android Auto connects mobiles to the head unit in vehicles and Android Automotive does not need a phone to operate and runs on a head unit.

Android Auto & Android Automotive- Which is a Better Option in Terms of Cost, Ease of Use, and Application Compatibility

Android Auto and Android Automotive both are advanced infotainment options for driving, and controlling vehicle settings like air conditioning, door locks, and audio functions. They enable easy communication and climate control.

Android Auto offers basic functions like hands-free calls, music, weather updates, and navigation, while Android Automotive provides GPS directions and battery life estimation for electric vehicles.

Few car models currently have Android Automotive infotainment systems, but over 500 now support Android Auto. If your car’s head unit does not compatible, replace it with an aftermarket stereo. It costs $200-$600 to integrate Android Auto but ensure the stereo fits in your dashboard before buying. More ways to connect your Android mobile to your car’s stereo are available. So, we can say that Android Automotive is much better than Android Automotive.


Android Auto and Android Automotive both are used to enhance the driving experience by integration with mobile devices. Android Auto runs on phones and interfaces with the head unit of vehicles and is available on new cars and trucks but Android Automotive directly runs on a head unit or tablet and has a limited availability. Both use today but have title bit differences. In this article, we have described the main dissimilarity between Android Auto and Android Automotive.

About the author

Shehroz Azam

A Javascript Developer & Linux enthusiast with 4 years of industrial experience and proven know-how to combine creative and usability viewpoints resulting in world-class web applications. I have experience working with Vue, React & Node.js & currently working on article writing and video creation.