Apple announced details of its plan to reinvent the driving experience at the Geneva Auto Show Monday.
CarPlay (formerly iOS for the Car) integrates the iPhone with a vehicle’s infotainment system, providing turn-by-turn navigation; Siri-activated phone calling; notification alerts; even third-party app support, such as music streaming service Spotify.
CarPlay (AutoPlay would have been cooler, but Microsoft got there first) will initially be available on 2014 models from Ferrari, Volvo and Mercedes-Benz. Further down the road, CarPlay will roll out to mass-market automakers including General Motors, Ford, Toyota and Hyundai.
With CarPlay, Apple threatens to disrupt multiple industries including GPS device makers, terrestrial radio, cheap plastic button manufacturers, and competing infotainment operating systems from BlackBerry (QNX) and Microsoft (Sync)
The biggest disruption, however, will be for the driver. By transforming the vehicle into an extension of the iPhone, CarPlay promises to make driving not just about getting places, but getting stuff done along the way.
Many questions, however, remain unanswered. Will CarPlay require special hardware; will automakers offer the service as a paid option; how will the iPhone communicate with the in-vehicle infotainment systems.
Like the smartphone, the car is also about to become a pawn in the mobile OS wars. Google is believed to be working on a similar infotainment service, which I expect automakers to offer to their Android-toting customers
Even the wireless carriers are getting in on the act — realizing that infotainment and in-car diagnostic services are a way to sell more data.
AT&T is developing a software platform in Atlanta that allows automakers to offer customers a suite of in-car services, such as Internet connectivity, remote diagnostics, and over-the-air software updates. Automakers and app developers can use the AT&T Drive platform to develop their own products.
Automotive infotainment systems have evolved at a rapid pace in recent years — yet they seem half-baked, first-trys.
Tesla Motors has, by far, the best infotainment system on the market. The Model S electric sedan ditches buttons for a 17″ screen that delivers Internet radio, navigation and web-browsing. Third-party app support and mobile notification alerts are a couple over-the-air software updates away.
For the rest of the auto industry, CarPlay offers the potential to level the playing field.
For the consumer, CarPlay joins a long list of Apple Products that they can utilize and experience!