Apple CarPlay vs. Android Auto: We Test the Most Hyped Software of the Year

Apple vs. Android

From the September 2015 issue

The term “infotainment,” despite being a marketing portmanteau that makes our eyes roll, does neatly sum up the increasing variety of human-machine interfaces that dominates today’s dashboards. Now, Silicon Valley has leapt into the infotainment fray with technology that promises to simplify the often contentious relationship between man and modern machine. New phone-mirroring software from Apple and Google beam their mobile operating systems—redesigned with fewer apps for the car—from your phone to the vehicle’s central display. Automakers are rushing to adopt these phone-integration systems, dubbed Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, both to appear hip and to keep drivers’ hands on steering wheels where they belong. Having sampled both phone-mirroring solutions, we can report the following:Apple vs. Android

Voice commands rule: Siri’s rigidity requires that queries be submitted just so; Android answers to a more natural crooning.

Android Auto Apple CarPlay
Compatible Apps 20 17
Built-in Apps Phone, Music, Google Maps, Hangouts Phone, Music, Apple Maps, Messages, Podcasts, iBooks
Must-have Apps Google Maps, Google Now Spotify, Messages
Apps We Wish Were Compatible Google Docs, Waze Google Maps, Waze
Voice Activation Yes, via Google Yes, via Siri
Weather Updates Yes, via Google and visible tile Yes, via SirI
-Standalone App
Yes, the Android Auto app No

Our Verdict

Any technology that takes more phones out of drivers’ hands is good. But both of these systems reduce distraction by reducing usefulness. As much as they promise phone mirroring, they don’t really work like your phone. The only key functions, for example, that allow touch-screen inputs for swiping, scrolling, and button selection outside of the main-screen icons are in the music apps (song and playlist libraries) and phone apps (contacts, recent calls, etc.). And though both CarPlay and Android Auto provide a familiar visual context for voice-to-text or navigation instructions, on the whole, neither feels especially beneficial. Most new cars already offer voice-to-text or voice commands, and some even offer Apple Siri integration. That leaves the ability to beam navigation to the car’s screen (provided the car lacks factory nav) as the most notable reason to use CarPlay or Android Auto. Even then, Google Maps is strictly compatible with Android Auto while CarPlay is stuck with the crummier Apple Maps. Waze and its critical cop-locating feature isn’t compatible with either, so you’ll still be staring at your phone to use this popular driver’s tool. For this reason, and for Android’s integration of the creepy-but-useful Google Now predictive software—it “learns” your life patterns before displaying suggested routes home, weather and traffic updates, calendar reminders, etc.—we’re giving the nod to Android Auto.

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Jaguar Releases Details, Single Photo of F-Pace Crossover Before Frankfurt Debut

Jaguar is late to the luxury-crossover game, but the new F-Pace crossover will pounce onto the scene next month, making its official debut at the Frankfurt auto show before hitting dealerships sometime during 2016 as a 2017 model. Jaguar isn’t waiting, however, to release a few details about the new cat’s claws—its chassis—as well as this image of the final product in a wild wrap, showing a few more details of the front end than we’ve seen before.

We can’t be sure it’s actually going quickly, since we take dynamic pictures like this all the time and it might only be going 10 mph. But let’s just pretend that it’s carving a hard left-hander at seven or eight times that speed, and that its freshly described double-control-arm front and “integral link” rear suspension setups are under full cornering load. If that is indeed the case, the trucklet’s flat attitude is impressive, giving credence to Jaguar’s claims that the aluminum-bodied F-Pace will handle with precision and control—or like the “ultimate practical Jaguar sports car,” to use the automaker’s terminology. Speaking of Jaguar sports cars, Jaguar says some of the F-Pace’s technology—specifically its electric power steering and brake-based torque vectoring—measures up to the stuff it developed for the F-type.

There are still many many more details to learn about the F-Pace, so we wouldn’t be surprised to see more tidbits trickle out of Coventry before the crossover debuts in Frankfurt on Tuesday, September 15, at 10:30 a.m. local time.

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Dodge’s Future: Alfa-Based Barracuda Convertible, New Charger Sedan Coming Soon

SRT Barracuda artist's rendering

Fiat-Chrysler’s dealer meeting in Las Vegas has turned up a lot of news, some of which we saw coming and some of which we didn’t. Among the drool-worthy tidbits are those pertaining to Dodge, and what’s to become of its Charger sedan and the long-rumored Barracuda. (The ’Cuda pictured here is our artist’s rendering first published in 2013, when the car was scheduled to debut as an SRT-badged model.) According to Automotive NewsAlfa Romeo’s new Giulia will donate its adaptable rear-drive underpinnings to both cars, and the Barracuda will come only in convertible form. Say it with us now: Ooooo, Barracuda!

2015 Dodge Charger R/T Scat Pack

So far, not much is known about the next-generation Charger sedan or the Barracuda beyond their link to the newest Alfa Romeo product. Automotive News reports that the Charger will borrow more from the 1999 Charger R/T concept and take on a less blocky appearance than today’s model, but the ’Cuda’s appearance remains cloaked in mystery. Critically, the new Dodges should be lighter than the current Charger four-door and (coupe-only) Challenger two-door, which use heavily fortified evolutions of a decade-old Mercedes-Benz platform.

The Alfa Giulia is claimed to weigh just 3325 pounds, although that figure likely hews to the optimistic side of things. Either way, even factoring the possibility that the Charger would be larger (the Giulia competes with the BMW 3-series) and use fewer exotic materials, it’d surely be lighter than the current car, which weighs between 4000 and 4400 pounds depending on powertrain and equipment. No mention of the Challenger’s fate can be found in AN’s report, but we expect the two-door coupe will carry on and use Giulia bones, too.

1999 Dodge Charger Concept

The exterior of the 1999 Dodge Charger R/T concept was designed by Tom Gale.

The even better news? We won’t have to wait long for the new Charger—which apparently was shown to the dealers in attendance in Las Vegas—or the ’Cuda. Both are expected to debut within the next two years, meaning an auto-show appearance later this year or early next year is possible.

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Ford Ranger May Return to U.S. By 2018, For Reals

Compact-pickup buyers began pining for a new version of the venerable Ford Ranger as soon as the robots welded the trucks’ final frames four years ago, and you can count us among that lot. Now, according to anonymous big mouths in the Detroit News, Ford is not only planning to bring the global-market Ranger to America, but wants to build it in Michigan as soon as 2018.

The story breaks as Ford and the United Auto Workers hash out a new contract and decide what to do with the company’s Michigan Assembly Plant in Wayne, which currently builds the Focus and C-Max. In July, Ford said it would move production of those models to Mexico by 2018 but stopped short on closing the plant. With 4500 jobs on the line, a resurgent mid-size pickup market spurred by General Motors, and Ford debuting a new Ranger in March, the possibility of a U.S.-spec version is more real than ever. The newspaper reports that the “final decision is up for discussion in the talks now underway.”

Ford wouldn’t confirm the plan, but spokesman Mike Levine said the company is “pursuing future vehicle alternatives to produce at Michigan Assembly and will discuss this issue with UAW leadership as part of the upcoming negotiations.”

Of course, the latest Ranger is no compact. Today’s “mid-size” trucks are mere inches away from full-size dimensions and not the lightweight, low-riding Rangers, S10s, Datsun 720s, and “YO” Toyotas that populated American roadways in the ’70s, ’80s, and ’90s. Still, the slightly shrunken proportions do pay dividends for parking, fuel economy, and price. As we’ve opined before, not every truck buyer wants or needs a half-ton pickup.

We’ll say this is an easy win for Ford. A little federalizing, no chicken tax, and a brand-new truck with a sleek interior and efficient engines—Ford’s 3.2-liter diesel inline-five is already available here in the Transit—should be simple math. Pickups, after all, are the most profitable and highest-volume segment for the Detroit Three.

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Jeep Confirms Hellcat-Powered Grand Cherokee to Dealers, Reveals 0–60 Time

2017 Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk (artist's rendering)

Jeep gave its U.S. dealers a sneak peek at the hottest machine in its upcoming lineup: the Hellcat-powered Grand Cherokee SRT Trackhawk. Yes, it’s real.

The Hellcat-ified Grand Cherokee, which we’ve been telling you about for a while now, was shown to Fiat-Chrysler dealers during the automaker’s annual dealership meeting in Las Vegas yesterday, Automotive News reports. As it will pack the 707-hp 6.2-liter supercharged V-8 found in Dodge’s neck-snappiest Challenger and Charger, Jeep told the assembled vehicle peddlers that the all-wheel-drive SRT Trackhawk will accomplish the zero-to-60-mph sprint in an astounding 3.5 seconds. For the record, the quickest such time posted in our last mega-SUV comparison test was 4.0 seconds, by the BMW X5 M. Timing for the Trackhawk’s arrival wasn’t confirmed, but our latest intelligence suggests it will be on the road by next summer.

It’s also much quicker than the already superquick Grand Cherokee SRT, whose 475 ponies hustled it to 60 mph in 4.6 seconds in our test. It’s also about as far removed from the original Jeep mandate—rugged off-road capability—as a vehicle can get, but we’re not complaining. As far as we’re concerned, the more Hellcats the better.

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Exceptional Conceptual: The Greatest Concept Cars of All Time, Volume I

Go to any auto show and you’ll find at least one vehicle that shines bright among the horde of production units, one with exterior shapes and interior details unrestrained by the limitations of mass production. Known universally as “concept cars,” these vehicular peacocks not only lay bare the heart and soul of an automaker’s design department, but they also often allow manufacturers a way to hint at certain styling elements and design themes that may weave their way into future production models.-Initially reserved for pure flights of fancy highly unlikely to make production, the concept moniker has in recent years been slapped on barely disguised future production models in an effort to wring every last headline from a model before it officially goes on sale—we’re looking at you, 2015 Honda Civic coupe “concept.” In rare instances, as was the case with the original Dodge Viper, a concept will prove to be so overwhelmingly adored that a manufacturer essentially is forced to make the dream a reality, lest the buying public call its bluff.   --Here we review some of our favorite concepts from history—note that this is by no means an exhaustive list—starting at ground zero with Harley Earl’s iconic Buick Y-Job.Buick Y-Job concept1938-Buick-Y-Job-concept-Harley-EarlDodge Flitewing concept GhiaDodge Flitewing concept GhiaFord Gyron, 1961Ford Gyron, 1961GM-X-Stiletto-conceptBut the X Stiletto is equally notable for what it lacks: door cuts and window pillars. The only cuts in the body were made for a pair of vents aft of the front fenders, and—get this—retractable air brakes that would pop out from behind the rear wheels.---Occupants had to climb in from the back, which might make the interior rather delightful after jumping into the car from a wet or muddy walkway. Once inside, however, they would have a completely unobstructed view. The driver would have to decipher information from at least 16 dials, and most controls were inspired by airplane controls, including toggle switches and W-shaped steering handlebars. But despite its inconveniences, it sure looks cool. —Steve Siler1995 Chrysler Atlantic conceptChrysler Atlantic concept1955 Lincoln Futura ConceptLincoln-Futura-concept-Batmobilemazda-furai-conceptmazda-furai-conceptMercedes-Benz C-111 conceptMercedes-Benz Research Car C 111-IICadillac Sixteen conceptCadillac Sixteen concept1953 GM Firebird I conceptGM XP-21 Firebird I concept, 1953Dodge Deora, 1967Dodge Deora, 1967Long, low, and outrageously retro, the Efijy didn't lead to a production car—or much of anything else—for Australian automaker Holden when it debuted in 2005 in Sydney and in 2007 at the Detroit auto show. That’s a real tragedy, because the stunning Efijy, an homage to the chopped customs of decades gone by, certainly wowed onlookers.Holden Efijy, 2005Jeep Mighty FC, 2012Jeep Mighty FC, 2012Dodge Tomahawk concept, 2003Dodge Tomahawk, 2003


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Meet the L-ATV, the U.S. Military’s Official Humvee Replacement

Oshkosh Defense Joint Light Tactical Vehicle
-The U.S. Army and Marine Corps have made their final selection for the replacement to the aging Humvee. Meet the new Light Combat Tactical All-Terrain Vehicle (L-ATV) built by Oshkosh Defense.

The decision caps off a three-year investigational phase in the military branches’ search for a new Joint Light Tactical Vehicle (JLTV), during which Oshkosh, Lockheed Martin, and AM General (maker of the long-serving Humvee) submitted 22 prototype vehicles that were each subjected to an intensive 14-month competitive test.

The $6.75-billion contract awarded to Oshkosh covers production of 17,000 new vehicles. The Army anticipates receiving its first units in 2018, with a procurement period that runs until 2040. The first three years of JLTV production will be low, with an anticipated output of 17,000 vehicles. Of those vehicles, 5500 will be earmarked for the Marine Corps and delivered between 2018 and 2022.

Oshkosh Defense Joint Light Tactical Vehicle
-Power comes from a GM Duramax 6.6-liter diesel V-8, and it can be fitted with a diesel-electric hybrid system. The L-ATV also features GPS navigation and HF, VHF, UHF, and satellite communications, and it can be fitted with a plethora of weapons systems, including turrets, various machine guns, and tube-launched missiles. The underbelly is touted as providing MRAP levels of protection from blasts, the vehicle features onboard AC and DC power, and Oshkosh’s TAK-4i independent suspension allows for 20 inches of wheel travel and the ability to raise or lower the vehicle for transport or other needs.

JLTV design requirements called for a larger, more mechanically reliable, safer vehicle than the Humvee, which has been continually patched and modified to deal with the evolving challenges of global combat. The vehicles will come in two variations—four-passenger combat vehicles and two-seat combat support vehicles—with a maximum weight of 15,639 pounds to enable transport via helicopter, USNI reports.

This story originally appeared on

Oshkosh Defense Joint Light Tactical Vehicle

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Meet the L-ATV, the U.S. Military’s Official Humvee Replacement

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Automakers Form Alliance to Fight Car Hacking

Car Hacking

It seems like this has been the summer of car hacking, doesn’t it? Between the remote lock hack, the OnStar hack, the encrypted key fob hack, and that major Wired article revealing a remote wireless hack that prompted FCA to recall 1.4 million vehicles, it’s enough to make you want to go back to a horse and buggy. It’s so bad, the world’s largest automakers have decided to do something about it, sort of: They’ve established an Information Sharing and Analysis Center, “a secure, industry-wide clearinghouse for intelligence about cyberthreats to vehicles and their networks.”

Automotive News reports that the two biggest auto industry supergroups—the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers and the Association of Global Automakers—are working on this cooperative to share best practices in preventing, detecting, and responding to automotive cybersecurity threats.

“Is it dire right now? I wouldn’t say so, but now is the time to form the ISAC so the infrastructure and trust is there when they need an ISAC,” Denise Anderson, chair of the National Council of ISACs and a former vice president of the financial services industry’s ISAC, told Automotive News. “You don’t want to be caught unprepared. Health care is being heavily targeted right now, but in the past they weren’t.”

ISAC is a term applied to collaborations among companies in a particular sector, and the first such industry-wide centers were established in 1998, when then President Bill Clinton issued a directive to encourage industries to “advance the physical- and cybersecurity of the critical infrastructures of North America by establishing and maintaining a framework for valuable interaction” among players in various industries. Financial institutions were able to respond to a rash of attacks that knocked the websites of dozens of major banks offline in 2012 and 2013 in part because of that sector’s ISAC, Anderson told Automotive News.

Automotive News reports that “every major automaker will participate in the automotive ISAC, with suppliers and telecommunications companies expected to join down the road.” Member companies will use the ISAC to anonymously share information about vulnerabilities and attacks, and the group will have a dedicated staff of analysts to track threats and give out pertinent information to members.



Will the industry’s self-appointed supergroup be able to fix the hacking problems? Lawmakers don’t seem to think so: Senator Ed Markey, long a critic of automakers’ lax cybersecurity stance, and Senator Richard Blumenthal have teamed up to introduce an anti-hacking bill that would require all automakers to “establish minimum security levels for any vehicle software in contact with physical driving controls.”

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ATTENTION HONDA CR-Z FANS: Photos Leaked of Facelifted 2016 Model


Great news for all those Honda CR-Z intenders out there: The hybrid hatch is getting refreshed for 2016 with a host of cosmetic upgrades.

As befits a car that captured 0.2 percent of Honda’s total U.S. sales through July, the CR-Z is responding to demand by not overexerting itself. The photo here, leaked alongside an interior shot by the Chinese website, shows some minor tweaks that Honda itself has not confirmed through official images. The company does acknowledge that the hybrid sports coupe will be refreshed this year, however.

The new bits include a racier lower fascia with a splitter-like element that cuts into an enlarged fog-lamp section, fresh side skirts, elongated headlamps, new wheels, and a resculpted rear bumper. Inside, the CR-Z ditches the conventional handbrake lever for an electronic pull tab and adds a center armrest. Additional changes are more difficult to ascertain from the grainy leaked photos, but it’s likely Honda will put in its latest touch-screen infotainment system.

Until the 2018 CR-Z arrives—perhaps stripped of its tepid hybrid powertrain and packing a detuned Civic Type R engine capable of at least 280 horsepower—the car is unlikely to get any additional power. Or buyers, for that matter. Through July, Honda sold 1562 CR-Zs, compared with five times that many Accord hybrids and almost twice as many Civic hybrids. The CR-Z emerged triumphant, however, against the discontinued Insight, beating that model by 358 cars. Plus, the coupe still is available with a manual transmission, which deserves some plaudits.

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