Android Automotive

Android Automotive & Android Auto: How Do They Compare?

Now available in 44 countries (with Australia as one of the pilot countries) and adopted by close to 50 car manufacturers, the global popularity of Android Auto is undeniable despite its launch only 6 years ago. Still, Google wants to push the boundaries of the modern driving experience. Thus, their venture into Android Automotive

In this day and age, you can’t just have an ordinary car infotainment system installed on your vehicle. Convenience behind the wheel now means you can access your favourite navigation, audio, or messaging with a touch of your head unit screen or the mention of “Hey Google”.

Though the nomenclature may sound the same, as with their basic functionality, Android Auto and Android Automotive have some striking differences.

Android Auto Interface
Android Auto interface

What is Android Automotive?

Android Automotive started in 2017 as a joint project of Google and Intel,  in partnership with European car brands Volvo and Audi. It is designed to be an Android operating system pre-installed in the head units of cars. Android Automotive Operating System (AAOS) provides the same “smartphone mirroring” technology of Android Auto, but also offers deeper integration into a car’s services. 

Android Automotive
Android Automotive

We’ll put it simply here.

With the Android Auto platform, you need to connect your phone via USB or Bluetooth to your head unit to display compatible apps.

On the other hand, AAOS gives users access to Android apps like Spotify, Waze, and WhatsApp, even being able to download straight from PlayStore. Meanwhile, it also grants control to car functions such as air conditioning, which feels like having an entire computer functioning on your head unit.

Android Automotive is also highly customisable, since it works on the same open-source OS found Android mobile devices. Therefore, expect new car tech and custom advancements to pop up soon and often. 

Android Automotive vs Android Auto

Android AutomotiveAndroid Auto
Access to Car functions?YesNo
Displays on head unit?YesYes
Access to apps?YesYes
Works with Google Assistant?YesYes
Needs mobile phone connection?NoYes
Needs to be installed?NoYes
Automotive vs Auto (the Android car tech comparison)

Current Vehicles with Android Automotive


  • V90 2022
  • XC40 P8 2021
  • XC60 2022
  • S90 2022
  • C40 Recharge 2021
  • V90 Cross Country 2022
  • XC40 Recharge 2021


GMC Hummer EV 2022

CHEVROLET Silverado 2022

CADILLAC Lyriq 2023

RENAULT Mégane E-Tech Electric 2022

Is it the Future?

Head units have now become the most important component to promote an enhanced driving experience and in-car entertainment for automakers. This trend mainly boils down to the success of Android Auto (and its Apple counterpart, Apple CarPlay). And, these programs definitely changed the way we look at our dashboards — from merely audio devices to the main control panel inside the vehicle.

Google takes it to the next level once again with Android Automotive. Being able to control even car functions aside from allowing access to Android apps from your head unit could make the inside of cars more like an aeroplane cockpit. Imagine, with a touch of a button or a voice command, you can now control the majority of car functionalities except actually driving the car.

So then, what’s next? Autopilot capabilities for the majority of vehicles? We now have self-driving cars, so that’s not impossible. How about a flying car? A drone car? The future looks exciting!

The technology we thought was just stuff of cartoon lore yesterday is slowly becoming reality today

Our Final Word

But for now, as we wait for the widespread release of Android Automotive-equipped vehicles, we can stick to Android Auto and Android head units for our car infotainment system experience.

Online stores like Vhedia offer quality, affordable, and the latest aftermarket head units that will surely improve your driving experience today. All units here are Android Auto and Apple CarPlay-compatible. And, they are also built on the Android platform, which opens up more apps to download and functions to install on your head unit. It’s like having a tablet on your dashboard and is basically what Android Automotive will be.

Check out the site and products to find out how you raise your head unit game right now!

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