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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  • Bigjaydogg3 - Monday, March 3, 2014 - link

    I'm hoping someone like Pioneer or Alpine is going to utilize this as well. Its a great idea, but I've not been impressed by factory sound systems in the past.
  • randomlinh - Monday, March 3, 2014 - link

    I hope this is mostly just an I/O interface from the OEMs. It would not be fun to be locked into one system of integration as it seemingly is now. This goes for any in car stuff, not just Apple.
  • phreaqe - Monday, March 3, 2014 - link

    This had better not be locking us into only getting good compatibility with apple products. I will refuse to buy a car if that is the case. I am an iphone user and even still i dont want them to only work with apple products. No good can come from this. If this is just a "module" so to speak that works if you have an ios product, but still allows you to use other devices, then i am all for it.
  • A5 - Monday, March 3, 2014 - link

    It is obviously what it is. If you aren't using an iPhone, you'll just get the stock OEM interface instead of the Apple one.
  • Braumin - Monday, March 3, 2014 - link

    I know there seems to be a big push for this stuff in the car, but it's just so full of issues...
    1. Touchscreens in cars are terrible
    2. Having to hook your phone up with a cable is archaic
    3. If this is locked to iPhones then it's going to be a huge problem for many many people

    Obviously got to wait and see what the end product actually is, but I'm personally full of trepidation with what this could be.
  • slayernine - Monday, March 3, 2014 - link

    I really hope that this allows for other phones to be connected. This could be a huge dissapointment if it requires you to own an Apple device. Also why would be connect a phone with a cable when bluetooth works so well.
  • A5 - Monday, March 3, 2014 - link

    Bluetooth doesn't have the bandwidth to transmit video. Right now this looks like it is mirroring the display of an app on the phone.
  • Braumin - Monday, March 3, 2014 - link

    Pretty sure WiFi could do this. That would be better than Thunderbolt.
  • kalgriffen01 - Monday, March 3, 2014 - link

    The only issue I see with using wifi or bluetooth would be spectrum congestion if many cars in the same location are running it.
  • tuxRoller - Monday, March 3, 2014 - link

    The signal strength of a phone hotspot is pretty tiny.

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