Difference between a CarPlay/Android Auto Retrofit and an Android Head Unit?

Difference between a CarPlay/Android Auto Retrofit and an Android Head Unit?

A commonly misunderstood topic is the difference between the Apple CarPlay/Android Auto Retrofit Kits and the Android Head Units.

Before we get into detail on this, it's important to point out the differences between both CarPlay, Android Auto and Android OS.


Apple CarPlay & Android Auto

The terms CarPlay & Android Auto both refer to the software that Apple and Google install on smartphones to allow access to certain applications and key information from your phone via the display and controls of your vehicle.

The software allows you to connect your phone to your car and use navigation apps such as Waze or Google Maps, play music through Spotify/Apple Music, answer phone calls and reply to messages via Siri/Google Assistant.


Android OS

Android Operating System (OS) is the base software you will find running on an Android smartphone or tablet.

Like iOS on iPhone/iPad, the Android system is found on phones from manufacturers such as Samsung, Google, LG and more.

It provides access to the Google Play Store, the ability to watch videos & movies, access to Facebook & social media and much more.

For users of iOS, Android is basically the equivalent Google software and can perform most tasks that you can perform on an iPhone/iPad and more.

This is the system that is installed on the Android Head Units that we sell, so as you can imagine the capabilities are far more than just CarPlay/Android Auto functionality.


Retrofit Kit

Simply put, the Retrofit kit is a module that allows CarPlay & Android Auto functionality via your cars original stereo and display.

The original display is untouched and functions as usual after installation of the module, however you are now able to connect your compatible iPhone or Android device to use CarPlay & Android Auto in your vehicle.

This gives you integration of navigation, music, messages, voice commands and other supported CarPlay/Android Auto apps.

This is the same type of functionality that you will find in new vehicles, the term 'retrofit' is used as you are retrofitting this new functionality into a vehicle which was not originally equipped with it.


    Head Unit

    The Android Head Unit will replace your original factory screen with a larger touch screen display, however usually the factory features will still be retained and accessible.

    The display itself will run the Android OS described previously, so it acts as a large smartphone/tablet embedded in the vehicle,  you can install apps directly onto the screen and save media and videos on the internal storage.

    You can still use CarPlay & Android Auto with your smartphone and the new display, to achieve the same functionality of the retrofit.

    On cars with in depth systems such as BMW & Mercedes, you will still be able to access your original car menus and they will be displayed on the new screen.

    This means you don't lose access to important information such as servicing and vehicle information.


    If you need any further clarification or have any questions please get in touch with our customer service team and we will be happy to help!


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