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Hands on with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto in the 2015 Hyundai Sonata

Sarah Jacobsson Purewal | Nov. 25, 2014
Plug your phone into the car and enjoy phone, navigation, messaging and more. That's the idea behind Apple CarPlay and Android Auto (in beta), and we tried both at the LA Auto Show.

Android Auto: Closely tied to Google Now
Android Auto's still in beta, but the Google rep in the second Sonata showed me how all you have to do is plug your phone into the car to launch it. There's no button from the main screen, as with CarPlay.

Unlike CarPlay, Android Auto doesn't look at all like what you have on your phone. Android Auto hews more closely to Google Now. The main screen has Google Now cards, which pop up with information or features that Google thinks you want at any given moment. For example, when I got into the car there was a Google Now card for a trip to LAX. "I scheduled a flight out of LAX at 3 p.m.," the Google rep tells me. "So Google figures that I probably want driving directions to LAX."

To get those directions, all he has to do is tap the card, and Google Maps automatically opens up, full-screen. The rep walks me through a scenario where he asks Google to tell him the weather in San Diego, and then follows up with a question about what time the zoo is open. Although he never says "San Diego Zoo," or "the zoo in San Diego," Google assumes (this time, correctly) that he's talking about the San Diego Zoo, because of his previous question.

You can also pick a main function by tapping on one of the five icons at the bottom of the screen for maps, phone, home, and music. Android Auto lets you stream music from various sources, make phone calls, and even text people via voice.

The fifth icon onscreen looks like a speedometer. Eventually, and tantalizingly, that icon will take you to the car's diagnostics systems. With CarPlay, you'd have to exit out of CarPlay to find the internal diagnostics; with Android Auto, you can go straight to the source.

Unlike CarPlay, Android Auto does lock you out of your phone. If you want to use your phone for non-approved activities (such as playing games or watching videos), you won't be able to unless you unplug it from the car.

Hyundai wouldn't tell me when Apple CarPlay or Android Auto will be available in its cars, but it will debut in the 2015 Sonata model and be pushed out as an update to current owners. It's not certain whether the 2015 Sonata will be the first car on the road to have both, but it's definitely the first one we've seen.


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