One day, we won't be able to imagine cars without touch screens. The technology is still new, but "infotainment" consoles get more popular every year, and more car companies are finding ways to embed computers in their dashboards. The screen was originally designed for basic navigation and to prevent people from constantly checking their phones while driving.
Most consoles work best with Android Auto or Apple CarPlay, two systems that connect your car to music, navigation, streaming audio and myriad communications. These two systems have been a hit with consumers, and they will likely become standard features in coming years.
Until then, you may be wondering which cars are CarPlay- and Android-compatible and which are not. We've compiled a handy list of makes and models that have embraced the new technology.
But first, what's the difference between Android Auto and Apple CarPlay? How do they compare?
Android Auto was designed with safety in mind. It has a simple and intuitive interface, integrated steering wheel controls and voice actions. It's designed to minimize distraction so you can stay focused on the road.
Android Auto isn't actually a standalone unit; it's mostly a touch screen built into the car's dashboard. You have to link up an Android gadget with a USB cable to make it work. This is also how Apple's CarPlay works.
That's a little annoying, but it does have a privacy advantage. There's no Wi-Fi or Bluetooth connection for passing hackers to snoop on. Plus, if your car is broken into or stolen, the thieves won't get a full Android system with your information in it. Everything is stored in your phone that you'll probably take with you.
Once your gadget is plugged in, you can control it via the touch screen, dashboard and steering wheel buttons and voice commands. The screen displays a driver-friendly version of the Android apps you want to use while driving. Even the GPS on your phone works with Android Auto and you don't have to pay a fee for updated maps.
Android Auto disables apps it feels might be unsafe to use while driving. You mostly get access to navigation, radio or select music apps and voice calling. It does let you interact with Google Now as well for personal assistant features.
While those limitations might annoy some people, they can easily get around them by unplugging their phone, it will hopefully help people drive safer.