Apple has teamed up with leading car manufacturers Ferrari, Mercedes Benz and Volvo to introduce its new ‘CarPlay’ feature, which is designed to bring the iOS screen to the dashboard. With many car manufacturers including touch screen displays and intelligent infotainment systems in their top end models, it was only time until Apple announced a new product to compete in this arena; CarPlay was originally announced alongside the introduction of iOS 7 in 2013, being originally branded as ‘iOS in the car’. By plugging your iOS 7 or above device into your car, you will be provided with an iOS 7 interface that has been specifically designed for use in automobiles and will have access to your music and contacts, and can even use the device as an in-car sat nav; all of this will be controlled from a touch screen mounted in the dashboard, so it will be just as safe and easy to use as existing infotainment systems.
Comparison against existing infotainment systems
Though the ability to plug an iPhone into a car has been an ever-present feature in most makes and models for around the past 7 years, this is the first time that the function to fully utilise your iPhone’s feature has been introduced.
Many cars have auxiliary socket inputs that enable you to hook up your iPhone’s headphone output to the car stereo, but this only lets you play music from your phone through the system and as an analogue function, prevents you from changing track from any device other than the phone. Similarly even though USB functionality has been present in higher end models, this feature only allowed for the playback of music and the control of music through the stereo. Finally, Bluetooth has also been another popular option cars, but its only been available to serve the functions of music streaming and making/receiving phone calls.
The iPhone contains many apps that can simplify a driving experience and making them fully accessible through the dashboard will only move to strengthen their popularity. A user can now map out a route using the Maps app on their computer, send this route to their phone and simply plug their phone in and they’re ready to go; alternatively, you sync your latest iTunes songs over wifi without even needing to touch your computer, then simply plug your phone into the car and you’ll have your entire music collection there waiting for you. The possibilities and scope for convenience are endless.
Whilst only Ferrari, Mercedes and Volvo are the first manufacturers to introduce models that include CarPlay, Apple also announced that it had deals in place with another 13 car manufacturers, which would suggest that mass adoption of this in cars isn’t too far off. As one of Apple’s new endeavours, this is designed to undermine Google’s recent development of the Open Automotive Alliance, which is looking to develop a similar system for multiple device manufacturers that will be based on its Android mobile operating system.
Although Apple’s share of the mobile device market is far smaller than that of the Android operating system at 68.5% against 19.1%, it is widely accepted that iOS boasts of a much higher number of technically competent users that are likely to engage and make use of the company’s latest features and innovations. The same is less likely to be seen with Android users because the Android OS is used in a number of budget smartphones and these users are far less likely to engage in the latest innovations released by Google, especially considering that the Android device market is incredibly segregated and many manufacturers using old and outdated versions of the OS.
I would say that CarPlay is definitely a good move by Apple and signifies the company’s commitment to its line of mobile devices for the long term. For many iOS users, it will prove to be very popular because it will simplify their driving experience as it means that they can keep the contents of their car’s infotainment system in their pocket at all times so that they can map new routes and add new music when they feel is convenient, rather than trying to fiddle with inputting an address into a sat nav system just when you need to set off.