Anytime a post about Android Auto or Apple CarPlay lands on these pages there's an inevitable raft of questions, misunderstandings, and uninformed bitching. What if I don't have [insert phone here]?! It'll kill my resale value! I don't want to use any of this shit, gimme back my eight-track! Here's a quick explainer to clear things up.
My Stereo Won't Work If I Don't Use An iPhone/Android
Nope. If you're still rocking a Nokia 3310, you can jam out to Barry Manilow while playing Snake. The stereo functionality – AM, FM, satellite radio, CD, whatever – will work no matter what phone you have. If, however, you've got a compatible stereo and an iPhone or Android device running the latest operating system, you can take advantage of Apple CarPlay or Android Auto.
I Shouldn't Have To Pick My Car Based On My Phone
You won't. The vast majority of the automakers offering (or planning to offer) these systems are going with both Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. There are exceptions (BMW comes to mind), but looking over the lists of automakers partnering with Apple and Google, there's a ton of overlap.
Because of this, the chances of your resale value being affected are slim, as is the possibility of all the songs you bought through either iTunes or Google Play becoming useless when you choose a car.
Your OS will not and should not dictate your new car purchase.
I'll Be Locked Into One Mobile Operating System Forever
No. See above.
How Will They Update These Things?
That's the beauty of both systems. Since all they do is run atop the existing infotainment platform, whatever updates or features Google or Apple want to implement in the future are downloaded through system updates. You won't need to upgrade your head unit because the software runs primarily on your phone, not your car's system.
Just Let Me Plug In My Phone And Mirror My Damn Screen
Not gonna happen. Automakers have been working tirelessly to keep the feds from mandating what can and can't be used or displayed on screens. By making it a free-for-all where your phone's display is mirrored onto your dash, automakers would open themselves up to liability and oversight. The design, layout, and functionality of your phone is just that: for your phone. Porting it over to your dash isn't a good idea. The touch points are too small, the functions are too broad, and the possibility of distraction is far too high. [insert pron joke or Clash of Clans reference here]. That's why Android Auto and CarPlay are better alternatives.
Both offer stripped-down interfaces that rely on large, simple text and graphics, along with basic, familiar functionality. If you use an iPhone, the learning curve for CarPlay isn't steep. There are icons. You press them. Same with Android Auto. It looks and works similarly to what you use on your phone, but without all the bells and whistles and potentials for distraction.
Gimme An Auxiliary Input Or Give Me Death
Fine. Most cars have either an 1/8-inch aux input or Bluetooth and will continue to. But understand there's a good chance they could go away or be limited in the future. Automakers (and their lawyers) don't want you fiddling with your phone any more than the head of NHTSA or the guy you just rear-ended. The driver distraction issues cited above could spell the end of the lowly, functional auxiliary input, and while Bluetooth (and soon, WiFi) will continue to be an option, automakers are trying to get you to connect your phone and then throw it in a cubby, out of sight. That could mean implementing a way to lock out the screen while the car is in motion. Don't be surprised when it happens.
Why Can't We Go Back To A Double-DIN?
Have you seen car interiors recently? Automakers are putting style and branding above all else. Yes, that might suck for your stereo upgrade choices (and the aftermarket), but it's the way the industry is going and massive rectangles aren't coming back in fashion anytime soon.
I Don't Want Any Of This Shit In My Car! Burn It All Down!
Buy an older car and stop bitching. At least it can still play your eight-tracks.