Apple's next generation CarPlay allows auto manufacturers to license the OS

emorphy

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Staff
Why it matters: It is unusual for Apple to cede control over the user experience to a partner, but the company is hoping to make further inroads into the auto market with its next generation CarPlay and has made the rare decision to license the OS to automakers to make that happen. Now the market waits to see if its gamble will pay off.

Apple CarPlay first launched in 2014 when it debuted on a Ferrari and then was more widely adopted by major car manufacturers in 2015. It was Apple's answer to the awful infotainment systems that automakers routinely churn out even on luxury models. Today, CarPlay is supported on a wide variety of vehicles and it's easy to implement: a Lightning cable plugs an iPhone into the car's USB port and then the user selects the CarPlay function on the car's screen. And that's if your car doesn't support wireless CarPlay, which is even easier to use.

Now Apple is upping its game with the next generation of CarPlay, which integrates both the central infotainment apps from the iPhone and data from the car's system into one screen that is populated with custom gauge clusters branded by the automaker. Perhaps a nod to its Ferrari origins, the first cars to sport the next generation CarPlay are Porsche and Aston Martin.

But while much ado was made over these announcements last December, a little but momentous detail slipped by most observers until journalist Sanjiv Sathiah spotted it: the next-generation CarPlay marks a return to software licensing for Apple. The turnaround, when you think about it, is quite breathtaking given Apple's ironclad insistence on creating a quality user experience by controlling both hardware and software. "In licensing its next-generation CarPlay to car makers, it is giving over the control of the "hardware" to car makers," Sathiah writes.

Because it is giving up some control, it's not surprising that luxury automakers are the first to host the next generation CarPlay as Apple may be hoping that they will not reproduce the inferior systems of earlier models. That decision may also indicate that Apple is not interested in having, for example, Hyundai feature its next generation product at all and instead is gunning for the luxury market with its fatter margins.

So much will be riding on how well Porsche and Aston Martin execute on their deployments.

Reviews so far have primarily focused on the aesthetics, such as how the carmakers have branded the interfaces. Porsche's CarPlay interface, for example, features three circular gauges in the cluster and a background wallpaper that hawkens back to Porsche's distinct houndstooth seat pattern. Aston Martin's interface has "Handbuilt in Great Britain" in wraparound text.

Aston Martin's first vehicles with the new CarPlay will be released this year, including a new model of its DB12 sports car. Porsche has not offered a timeframe or details about its plans.

Then there is General Motors, which is phasing out Apple CarPlay starting with its 2024 EVs to the chagrin of many of its dealers. The automaker says it is because the software is too distracting for drivers. Instead, it is offering a new integrated infotainment system using Google's built-in applications for cars. Initial reviews for its 2024 Chevy Blazer EV, which features its new infotainment software, have emerged recently and they make it clear the system is not ready for prime time.

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Somehow this feels extraordinarily tacky and inappropriate, as in, if I had a Ferrari, I'd want it to feel like I'm driving a manly man's Ferrari, not like I'm driving a stupid iPad on wheels and on my way to Starbucks. And yeah, I attribute the infotainment UI that much power, I think it's prominent enough to take over the feel of the experience.
 
Somehow this feels extraordinarily tacky and inappropriate, as in, if I had a Ferrari, I'd want it to feel like I'm driving a manly man's Ferrari, not like I'm driving a stupid iPad on wheels and on my way to Starbucks. And yeah, I attribute the infotainment UI that much power, I think it's prominent enough to take over the feel of the experience.
You need to stop staring at the infotainment screen and look out the windscreen.

Seriously, it’s something you set when you turn the car on, might make the odd adjustment as you drive along but it should be something you interact with what, 5% of the journey? Maybe 10% at most?

Driving a Ferrari will still feel like a Ferrari, just now the UI is easier to pick some music or bring up maps…
 
You need to stop staring at the infotainment screen and look out the windscreen
...
just now the UI is easier to pick some music or bring up maps

You were so close to getting the point. While driving, we absolutely don't want shiny, touchscreen interfaces. We want physical, tactile buttons that are always in the same place so you can interact with them by memory alone. Even having to take a short glance at the touchscreen panel to know whether you're pressing in the right place is time where your eyes should insetad be on the road.

By far the best map and media controls I've ever used on a car are the "multimedia commander" on Mazdas. A compact, intuitive, tactile experience that lets you operate things blindly while you keep your eyes where they should be. This is how all cars' controls should be.
 
Somehow this feels extraordinarily tacky and inappropriate, as in, if I had a Ferrari, I'd want it to feel like I'm driving a manly man's Ferrari, not like I'm driving a stupid iPad on wheels and on my way to Starbucks. And yeah, I attribute the infotainment UI that much power, I think it's prominent enough to take over the feel of the experience.
How is a digital dashboard like looking at an iPad? It's like you haven't actually seen what it looks like and are making assumptions based on how you feel and not objective data. Digital dashboard can look however the UI designer wants them to look. They could even look like vintage car dash boards.
 
Somehow this feels extraordinarily tacky and inappropriate, as in, if I had a Ferrari, I'd want it to feel like I'm driving a manly man's Ferrari, not like I'm driving a stupid iPad on wheels and on my way to Starbucks. And yeah, I attribute the infotainment UI that much power, I think it's prominent enough to take over the feel of the experience.
If I had a Ferrari, the infotainment system wouldn't even get a passing thought. I have a Ferrari - How fast does it go, how good does it sound, how much BHP from the V12....

...Much more important than whether it's Carplay or Android Auto. You won't be able to hear your Taylor Swift playlist over the engine and no cup holder is good enough to counter the acceleration forces. Your frappe latte macchiato with vegan cow juice is heading south instantly. Enjoy your Ferrari, drive it like a Ferrari.
 
I can't speak to Carplay, but my experiences with Android Auto in multiple vehicles, wired and wireless, make me indifferent to having phone dependent car tech. I stopped using it entirely as Android Auto was completely unreliable for me. I had a Lexus salesman tell me that Android Auto was fine as a replacement for OEM navigation systems; Not in my experience.

Perhaps CarPlay is more reliable?
 
I can't speak to Carplay, but my experiences with Android Auto in multiple vehicles, wired and wireless, make me indifferent to having phone dependent car tech. I stopped using it entirely as Android Auto was completely unreliable for me. I had a Lexus salesman tell me that Android Auto was fine as a replacement for OEM navigation systems; Not in my experience.

Perhaps CarPlay is more reliable?

Android Auto in my RAM just works... Never have an issue and it is all wireless.

That being said if your experience is largely from toyotas, I can understand why. Their radios suck.
 
Android Auto in my RAM just works... Never have an issue and it is all wireless.

That being said if your experience is largely from toyotas, I can understand why. Their radios suck.
I'm glad to hear it can work flawlessly. It could also be my phone causing the issues.
 
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