Apple on Your Dashboard with CarPlay System

Edited by Vani Rao

Ferrari, Mercedes-Benz, and Volvo to use iPhone features in dashboard

The Geneva International Motor Show proved to be more exciting than ever with tech companies such as Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: APPL), Google Inc. (NASDAQ: GOOG), Microsoft Corp. (NASDAQ:MSFT), BlackBerry-QNX and a host of others outdoing themselves in terms of offering high-tech gadgetry for new-age digital cars. And not to be left behind, Apple firmly entrenched itself as the leader in innovation and high-end technology with the launch of CarPlay, a system that enables the usage of iPhone features and Siri voice-activation system in the dashboard.

To this effect, Apple announced on Monday, 3 March 2014, that select car manufacturers such as Ferrari, Mercedes-Benz, and Volvo will soon begin offering CarPlay in their new versions to be launched later in 2014. Other carmakers such as Ford and Honda are expected to follow suit in the near future.

Apple was granted a patent last week for a new car dashboard that would digitize most of the manual controls in a car through a touchscreen interface. The patent is an extension of an earlier patent that Apple filed in 2011 for a system that can replace most of a car’s consoles.

Meanwhile, Volvo suggested in its news release that its new XC90 SUV would handle only iOS devices. Volvo said that CarPlay at first will require the user to plug the iPhone in with a cord, and that it would introduce Wi-Fi connections at a later date.

mm1The connected car market has been witnessing a boom in recent years with various companies offering convergence platforms for mapping, messaging, and music at the driver’s fingertips to make driving a more pleasurable experience. Earlier this year, Google announced its Open Automotive Alliance to work with automakers to bring Android technology to cars. GM, Honda, and Hyundai, members of Google’s Open Automotive Alliance, are also part of the Connected Car Consortium, which is developing another framework called MirrorLink that can emulate Android, Symbian, BlackBerry, and eventually Windows Phone user interfaces in a dashboard’s center console.

Alternative Revenue Stream

In a news release, Greg Joswiak, Apple’s Vice President of iPhone and iOS product, said that CarPlay will allow users to access the iPhone’s features by touching icons on an in-dash console or activating Siri through a button on the steering wheel. This could be a new revenue stream for Apple in the future years.

The first of its kind, CarPlay has been mainly designed to let drivers use their iPhone in the car with minimized distraction. CarPlay is a re-branding of Apple’s operating system iOS in the Car, a product first unveiled at the Worldwide Developers Conference in San Francisco last year.

CarPlay is a simple hands-off device with no complex interface elements and no virtual keyboards. With its intelligent coding, CarPlay offers multiple functionalities such as offering alerts on upcoming meetings and appointments and suggesting directions to the appropriate destinations. Apple’s voice-based system Siri can read incoming text messages and lets the driver dictate a response.

On the other hand, it is unclear whether the new cars that feature CarPlay will also allow the usage of Android or Windows-based devices or whether a buyer might select one system over another as an add-on option. In its new release, Apple added that CarPlay would work with a variety of third-party apps including Spotify and Beats Radio. However, it did not say whether only iOS-generated content would appear on the console or the dashboard. Apple also did not specify whether CarPlay will accommodate Pandora Media from among other third-party apps.

On a final note, Apple said that the cars will not run the iOS, but will feed the signal from the iPhone 5, 5S, or 5C to the car through the lightning cable.

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