Earlier this morning Apple officially branded its iOS in the Car initiative as CarPlay. At a high level CarPlay allows iPhone 5/5c/5s users to access certain apps on their phone via an in-car infotainment display. It's effectively iPod integration on steroids. One of the biggest departures from the iPod integration efforts we've seen in previous vehicles is the user interface appears to be consistent across vehicles. Large, iOS 7-styled application icons adorn the UI rather than something that varies by auto maker. There's a virtual home button as well as icons for phone, music, iOS Maps and messages. Apple's CarPlay website lists a handful of apps that are supported by the technology, with the promise of more to come. 

Interacting with CarPlay can be done via buttons/knobs or directly by touch (if available). It's important to note that CarPlay likely won't replace the need for checking an expensive box on your car's option list. The OEM still needs to provide the underlying hardware/interface, CarPlay simply leverages the display and communicates over Apple's Lightning cable.

The technology will show up in select new vehicles arriving this year. Ferrari, Honda, Hyundai, Jaguar, Mercedes-Benz and Volvo are launch partners, with the first cars likely being shown off at this year's Geneva Motor Show later this week. 

Apple's approach to CarPlay seems to be more integrated than previous efforts, however it's unclear how strict/specific the hardware requirements are for automakers. We'll have to wait and see what actual implementations end up looking like, but I rarely encounter a car maker that seems to "get it" when it comes to integrating a fast and intuitive infotainment system. CarPlay clearly attempts to at least control the Apple side of the interface, I just can't help but wonder if the right solution for revolutionizing compute in vehicles is one step below at the platform level. In fact, if we look at Apple's preferred solution to most problems it almost always involves controlling the complete experience rather than just one portion of it.

Google is of course working on its own in-car solution based on Android. The Open Automotive Alliance is composed of Audi, GM, Honda, Hyundai, Google and NVIDIA. NVIDIA's inclusion implies more of a platform level play. The first Android powered cars will show up later this year.

Source: Apple

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  • steven75 - Monday, March 03, 2014 - link

    Doesn't seem like there's any lock in--This is the same as the iPod connectors. You don't have to use it and your unit will continue to work.

    I may delay any future car purchase until this is available via my car manufacturer of choice. There's nothing comparable to the integration of an OEM head unit plus safety from thieves since they are really only interested in aftermarket units.
    Reply
  • errorr - Monday, March 03, 2014 - link

    It really depends on the communication. The iPod integration in car stereos was proprietary and given Apple and its penchant for exclusivity I would be surprised if it isn't apple only.

    On the other hand it might be possible to have the car makers integrate apple and open standards and just change out the connectors.
    Reply
  • PhatRS - Monday, March 03, 2014 - link

    I really like the sound of this feature, but until it becomes more widely available I'll continue using "Harken For iPhone" in the car. It's much easier to use than Apple's music player (bigger text, large buttons/touch areas). There's also "Harken" on the iPad but I need a new cradle for my iPad so I can't use it at the moment. Reply
  • wymynyfus - Monday, March 03, 2014 - link

    "Apple's new CarPlay system will ensure drivers' "eyes and hands stay where they belong," -- Meanwhile, Google's self-driving car will allow users to put their hands and eyes wherever they want.

    Bottom line - this thing will be great for safety. Word is http://4autoinsurancequote.com will be giving big insurance discounts to people who have the CarPlay installed in their vehicles
    Reply
  • ThreeDee912 - Tuesday, March 04, 2014 - link

    Spam...? Reply
  • tuxRoller - Monday, March 03, 2014 - link

    I don't know how you can talk about this area and not mention genivi. That is the platform that, I think, you want.
    The issue with carplay is that it looks to be an iOS only solution. What you want is a platform that can handles the standards and apple. So, for genivi, there would be some "native" apps (depending on the OEM this could be truly native or html5) and an interface to handle external devices. For android/windows that would include miracast, probably, and apple's might be airplay. For wired connections it should be even easier.
    Reply
  • fteoath64 - Tuesday, March 04, 2014 - link

    Yes, Genivi is for Open Solutions namely Android phones and/or any phone with Wifi and micoUSB plugs. But Apple is propreitary hence, CarPlay being Apple's simplistic implementation. There is no reason why an open Carplay like app can not be developed on any platform and handle the mirror-screen/mirror function controls. All such a system require is a USB2 port so owners can plug in their own cables for charging if they wish. It will use wifi solely to work the integration. This leaves the phone to also allow for being a HotSpot for the car to other occupants via wifi as well. Reply
  • tuxRoller - Wednesday, March 05, 2014 - link

    It's got nothing to do with android. Google created their own consortium to push android into cars. Genivi is lower level than that though it does push for HTML 5 solutions through their web APIs that access car functionality.
    The advantage of something like genivi is that you can run pretty much whatever you want in userspace but have a nice, standard set of libraries you can count on.
    As you say mirroring is pretty easy this why I don't see the point of carplay. It seems one could just implement airplay (it's an open spec isn't it?) and call it a day.
    Reply
  • michael2k - Tuesday, March 04, 2014 - link

    It sounds like Genivi is to Android as Apple is to Apple.

    In other words, it will still require something like CarPlay to succeed before the Genivi members have the necessary inspiration to create something like it on top of Genivi.
    Reply
  • tuxRoller - Wednesday, March 05, 2014 - link

    Genivi has pretty much nothing to do with android. The spec is broader than that. Moreover, it's a composed of s bunch of companies and acts similarly to linaro except in the ivi space.
    http://projects.genivi.org/projects
    That's a list of their projects and you can see that the way they want to do business is by upstreaming first.
    What they provide is a base (through the baselines specs) along with various ways OEMS can provide an experience. The result should be very android like in that every car maker will develop its own skin except it won't be running android (though it certainly could through lxc).
    Reply

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