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From tape decks to androids

With Bluetooth, USB and the humble auxiliary cable, we haven’t suffered a dearth of connectivity options when mating our smartphones to our cars. But phones have become even smarter over the past five years – and ditto their four-wheeled counterparts.

From tape decks to androids

Enter Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, two screen-sharing options pioneered by the developers of their respective operating systems – both standard on the Forester seen here. You might have been led to believe Apple and Android have gone to war, but Apple iPhone owners will naturally use CarPlay, and likewise any Android operator (Samsung, Huawei, etc) will find a very similar experience with Android Auto. Here’s how they differ:

Connectivity
Android Auto requires a free download of the application from Google Play. Once installed, simply connect your smartphone to your car via USB cable – this will initiate a series of prompts to get you connected. If you’re an iPhone user there is no need for any further software – CarPlay is already part of the Apple iOS suite and can be unleashed via a few simple taps in your phone’s general settings.

Once either system is connected, it’s worth noting how they differ from traditional pairings.

Screen sharing is the future
Yes, screen sharing trumps mere pairing, which is little more than media and phone calls, with access to text (sometimes) and phonebook. The Forester’s 8-inch touchscreen essentially replicates your phone’s home screen – minus potentially harmful distractions. Naturally this makes Subaru’s already feature-laden SUV that much more desirable, especially on the urban commute where the vehicle’s native voice controls are adapted into a Siri-like recognition system. This means you get enlarged icons for Satellite Navigation, Music, Messages (SMS and Whatsapp), Calls and more – all prompted via touch and voice, with the latter being useful for text replies as well as navigating to your destination.

But there’s even more to come…

Ever-expanding libraries
This is perhaps the most exciting part – both companies are dedicated to expanding their libraries of driver-friendly, legislation-safe applications for their respective systems. Apple already has a Podcast and Audiobook service installed, and there are more coming. Several popular Android applications have also successfully made the transition to Android Auto, such as Waze, Facebook Messenger, Spotify and Audible.

The trend is definitely for navigation, music and storybook applications – perfect companions for the 21st-century urbanite, and all at the touch of your hand or the sound of your voice. And thanks to the ‘always-holstered’ approach to smartphone connectivity, it means you’re not infringing Regulation 308A, which stipulates that motorists may not drive on a public road while holding a mobile phone or any other communication device in one or both hands, or with any other part of the body.

Connected and law-abiding. We like this.