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Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Is Apple CarPlay Really That Big Of A Deal? [Opinion]

Apple CarPlay integrates all the commonly used smartphone features while driving into one easy-to-use interface. This is Apple's first foray into the car entertainment market. Sure enough there have been iPod connectivity kits for various vehicles before but CarPlay is the first 'product' (if you can call it that), that is made by Apple themselves.

Those of you that are familiar with AppRadio Mode from Pioneer, or other smartphone integrating head units, are probably wondering why CarPlay keeps getting so much attention. After all, it is just Apple's version of AppRadio Mode. And besides, you will need a pricey new car or one of Pioneer's NEX head units to avail of CarPlay.

Here's my take on Apple's latest technology...

We all use our smartphone while driving. And I mean that in a more legal sense. Using your cell phone while driving is illegal but using smartphone apps on your dashboard isn't. Not yet anyways. Whether smartphone apps on the car's dashboard are equally distracting as using a cell phone itself, can be debated in a separate piece. That may be one for lawmakers to decide on.

For now though, CarPlay is upon us and undoubtedly many people will use the technology as and when it rolls out. Apple's decision to expand the technology to the aftermarket is a no-doubt home run as not everyone will run out to buy a new car just because of CarPlay. The aftermarket head units offer a much affordable option.

Even though there are other solutions to integrating smartphone apps in your car, I believe Apple CarPlay will be the best. I have seen it in action first-hand at one of Pioneer's media events last month. Everything about it is simple and works as advertised. And above all, once you connect your phone, you can put it away while you drive.

AppRadio Mode does a lot of things that CarPlay can't do yet. For example, the app library for AppRadio Mode is more than 30 apps long. For now, CarPlay will only support five third-party apps. But Apple insists that list will expand. When and how isn't known yet.

CarPlay is poised to become more popular than AppRadio Mode. The simple reason being it is has Apple's name attached to it. Also, unlike AppRadio Mode, there is no need to cycle the emergency brake to use CarPlay. Connect your iPhone and CarPlay launches.

People are going to love it the moment they experience it. It will almost make your car look like it was designed by Apple themselves (ok, maybe not).

So is CarPlay that big of a deal? I think it is. Apple wants to make sure that iOS integration happens in a way that is safe to use while driving. People who need to use their smartphones while driving (to make calls, get directions or listen to music), will see CarPlay as a solution that is made by Apple and designed to be used in the Car.

Also, with an aftermarket solution like Pioneer's NEX receivers, you can avail of CarPlay in the vehicle you already own. The cheapest solution so far is the Pioneer AVH-4000NEX which was selling at just under $600 on Amazon. Firmware updates which enable CarPlay on those receivers is coming soon from Pioneer. Alpine Electronics is also working on a device of their own with CarPlay capabilities.

And don't forget that Google and Microsoft are both working on their own smartphone integration solutions for the car. It will be interesting to see how CarPlay holds up to those platforms and how the technology evolves as time passes.

Image source: Apple

1 comment :

  1. I think that integration with smart phones in cars is unavoidable but as it is now will have it's drawback. Mainly because there isn't any real standards about the connection. Since Apple always avoids open standards people who have chosen other brands of smart phones will be locked out. I think that this is a dead end for the car makers when they chose just one brands solution that in a few years will be obsolete. Cars last for at least a decade but smart phones has a tendency to change every other year. What would you do with a 6 year old Mercedes that needs an update for the firmware to connect to iPhone 9 and iOS12? I suspect the upgrade from Mercedes will cost more than a new iPhone. We all know how much the car makers charge for an update of GPS-maps.

    Myself I have been forced to buy new AppRadio when I changed to my iPhone 5S. In this case it is an easy replacement and not so costly. The day when Apple accepts open standards for connectivity this will take of for real. I don't think people choose their cars from what phone they are using and CarPlay will just be there useless for a lot of car owners.

    Just look at all older cars that came with the 30pin iPod connector, how many use it today?


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