Apple’s new “second screen” iOS is the newest interface optimized for the car and offers the tightest integration between mobile device and auto to date. The Siri-enabled CarPlay will be unveiled at the Geneva International Motor Show this week.
New models from Volvo, Mercedes and Ferrari will now have CarPlay built in. In order to use the system, buyers will need a Lightning-connector iPhone 5, 5s or 5c with an iOS 7 update. Rather than a stand-alone infotainment system, everything will still run through the iPhone, complete with screen mirroring and touchscreen interaction. To do this, the system uses H.264 video with the iPhone connected physically via Lightning cable to the console. Wireless connectivity will undoubtedly be offered in the future, but is not yet an option.
The debut of Apple’s CarPlay is exciting in that it will offer owners the familiar, high performing iOS and Apple features capable of navigating maps, music, communication and other apps, creating a smooth, slick user experience using the touchscreen, console/steering wheel controls or voice. This kind of connectivity outdoes some of the clunkier and more stripped down auto infotainment systems. Many manufacturers are already planning to have CarPlay enabled models later this year, including Hyundai, Honda and Jaguar.
Android users may be interested to know that both Honda and Hyundai are planning dual-boot capability in 2014 models featuring Apple and Android systems.
Although Apple apps have a loyal following, some features like Siri and Maps have caused a significant amount of user frustration and will need some improvement in order to be fully and seamlessly integrated with the in-car system. It is uncertain whether or not some highly popular apps such as Google Maps will be able to operate within CarPlay.
The fact that it is not a true stand-alone in-car OS, the fact that CarPlay will operate seamlessly with users’ iPhones in a familiar way with well-designed Apple functionality may prove to be better than a stand-alone system. It could be that vehicles will simply have systems built in that rely completely on the users mobile devices, making it easier for manufacturers and consumers.