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Text | Goh Zhi Xuan
Photos | Editorial Team, Android, Apple, Pioneer

1 April 2019
You've probably heard of Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, both platforms allow the integration of your smartphone to your car's infotainment system. Find out which is better.

With the advent of smartphones, much of our lives are deeply intertwined with these gadgets, whether it is for work, entertainment or just as a method of contacting one another. With handy features such as GPS navigation and multimedia functionality, many would have imagined the possibilities of integrating their phones to their car's infotainment system.

With the introduction of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto you can now do just that! Let's have a look at the differences between the two platforms and find out which is the better one.
1. Availability

On this aspect, Android Auto has an edge over its counterpart. Android Auto is available on more than 500 new car models (worldwide). It is also available as a standalone mobile app that optimises your phone for usage while driving. But you will need a compatible headunit to really experience and enjoy the Android Auto equipped infotainment system in your car.

While Apple CarPlay used to have a much smaller availability in 200+ car models, it had grew to more than 400 new car models (worldwide), which makes it a really close match to Android Auto. With the introduction of aftermarket infotainment systems, Android Auto and/or Apple CarPlay functions can now be added to previously unsupported vehicles.
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2. Navigation

These days, navigation applications and GPS devices are an integral function for drivers, as they help guide us to the locations which we are otherwise unfamiliar with.

Reminiscent of Apple's iOS 6 first launch, Apple CarPlay did not offer the option to use third party navigation apps. It was only until recently that the iOS 12 update added these features. However, usage of third party navigation apps through CarPlay may not be as convenient as using Apple Maps, due to the limitation of Siri support on third party navigation apps. Also when using Google Maps through CarPlay mode, the user interface will look extremely similar to Apple Maps.

All is well if you are using Android Auto, the navigation will be the same Google Maps that are loved by the masses. With an excellent interface that allows you to look for petrol stations or add detours easily with either voice or manual commands.
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3. Variety of Applications

While there are a variety of popular apps available on Apple CarPlay, the range is much more limited as opposed to the usual App Store.

Meanwhile, Android Auto supports a much larger collection of third-party apps including audio books, media players and third-party messaging apps such as WeChat, among many others.
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4. Controls

Both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are programmed to dissuade users from using their phones while driving. If you were to attempt to open the messages app on your iPhone, Siri will automatically be activated. Meanwhile, when your phone is connected to Android Auto, pressing the home button will bring you to a screen with the Android Auto logo - preventing you from using the phone.

Accessing calls and text on either platform is possible through either manual controls or via voice commands. Voice-to-text functions are also available when it comes to sending messages, it is also possible for text messages received to be read out to you.
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Pioneer Z-Series AV receivers

If you happen to be driving a car that does not support either functions, you can easily upgrade your car's infotainment system with Pioneer's Z-Series of multimedia receivers to enjoy Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, on top of many other benefits such as an improved audio quality.

Pioneer's latest Z-series of multimedia receivers supports both Apple CarPlay and Android auto, sparing you from the dilemma of choosing which platform to go with. Pioneer head units have always been known for their outstanding sound quality, and the Z-series is no exception. A new optimised circuit board layout and audiophile grade components (Polymer Multi-Layer capacitor and resin electrode capacitor) are incorporated to deliver the best audio listening experience. Additionally the Z-Series receivers also has a 13-band equaliser built in, allowing users to fine tune the sound to their preferences.

An all new user interface is also designed for simple and intuitive operation with ample customisation.

Furthermore, a wide range of digital formats are supported through USB devices, including audiophile-grade lossless audio formats such as FLAC and WAV as well as popular video formats such MKV and MPEG 4 in Full HD 1920x1080 resolution.
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The flagship model in the Z-Series is the only one that is equipped with built-in WiFi for wireless connection of Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and screen mirroring function for Android phones. It is also the only model in the line-up to offer a large 7.0-inch capacitive touch screen. Coupled with two USB ports, an SD card slot, Bluetooth and the ability be paired with up to 20 devices (with up to five phones on a simultaneous full-time connection), the Z9250BT is the clear choice if you desire maximum connectivity.
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This is a single DIN receiver in the Z-series line-up that features a motorised clear-type 7.0-inch resistive touch screen that can be retracted into the sleek head unit. It also features a single USB port, Bluetooth and the ability to be paired with up to five devices (with up to three phones on a simultaneous full-time connection). Like the Z9250BT, the Z7250BT is also capable to support a similar, wide range of media formats.
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The Z5250BT offers the same functionality as the Z7250BT in a double DIN package with a fixed display. As such it is a good option for users who do not require the WiFi connection feature that is found on the Z9250BT.