The tech and automotive sectors are abuzz with the discussion around Apple’s new CarPlay. The feature itself has been around for many years and the primary focus was to allow users to enjoy their iOS experience on the car’s touchscreen. Now it wants to become the de-facto Operating System (OS) of the entire car.
Google had also announced a similar functionality called Android Auto along the same lines. Both were similar platforms and performed similar functions. However now, Apple has revealed its new CarPlay feature and that is expected to be a major update with far-reaching consequences.
What is the New Apple CarPlay?
According to Apple, the new CarPlay system will have a wide variety of groundbreaking features. Since most cars come equipped with CarPlay and Android Auto, the company is looking to take the next step into commandeering the vehicle, replacing even legacy speed dials and fuel gauges in the process.
So basically, rather than just being a way to mirror iPhones in the car’s display, this update essentially means that CarPlay can take over much of the vehicle’s working.
Apple is also aggressively pitching the new CarPlay features to automakers. The company claimed that around 79% of Americans would only buy a car with Apple CarPlay in it. It is using this as a leverage to get a seat at the table when it comes to automakers and the future of infotainment in the car.
Some users and commentators have rung the alarm bells and stated that the new CarPlay could be a Trojan horse for the automakers and may give Apple more power and control over their systems than necessary.
Why is Apple Looking to Make CarPlay this Futuristic?
Of course, there is a bigger picture in Apple’s mind. Nowadays car infotainment systems aren’t just limited to a few functions like music and maps display. They have become much more over time including some level of self-driving capability, adaptive cruise control feature, and intelligent car monitoring.
So, by playing this card, Apple wants to be more involved in the automakers’ ambitions of the future. Companies like Tesla and their tech is way above Apple’s current capabilities but not every company is a Silicon Valley tech giant when it comes to its DNA. Companies can naturally benefit from Apple’s position as a tech innovator and popular electronics manufacturer.
How are Automakers Going to Respond?
Automakers are likely to take this move with a pinch of salt. Many of the top manufacturers including BMW, Mercedes, General Motors, Ford, Toyota and others have extensive IT divisions and they can’t just leave everything in the hands of Apple.
This is especially true as the latter is looking to launch a car of its own. CEO Tim Cook unveiled the development of a new Apple car a couple of years ago, much to the delight of Apple fans. However, automakers won’t be exactly jumping from joy when it comes to competition from yet another tech company. Already Tesla has opened the industry up with its innovative vehicles.
Now that Apple is looking to enter the auto sector indirectly by proposing an all-powerful CarPlay, it remains to be seen just how the legacy manufacturers will respond to it. Tesla is likely to oppose the move as it has a much more advanced system of its own. The rest of the field, it is yet unclear.
Some companies are good at software adaptation while many others not so much and they are lagging behind. They could definitely have some real benefits allowing Apple to develop and enhance the driving experience. However, the auto sector is completely united on the fact that they just can’t hand over their data to Apple or any other tech company. Not only will it be a privacy breach but will also limit the companies’ design freedom over the years.
Analyst Horace Dediu said:
“Forget about the Apple Car—Apple CarPlay is a bigger deal. It’s very likely to scale to millions and millions of cars, if not hundreds of millions.”
Is Google Going to Take the Plunge as Well?
Google’s Android Auto has also been an industry standard for a while. The search engine giant is also going to view the latest news as an effort to pre-empt an entry into the auto sector and may bring forward its own update to Android Auto.
However, given the backlash Apple is facing over CarPlay, it may learn some lessons and ease its way into things rather than bargaining more than it could ask for. So far there hasn’t been any news from Google, but it may only be a matter of time before the company replies with its own upgrade.
While Android users are generally much smaller in number, especially in USA and other big target markets, a better version could actually make the case for users to shift from iOS to Android too. On the flip side, if Google doesn’t respond, Apple may become the runaway leader in this new segment and cement its place in the auto market by leveraging its CarPlay.
While Apple’s CarPlay can actually improve the user experience in many ways, it is controversial at the moment and the auto sector is immediately going to feel threatened by it. But, just like every innovation out there, CarPlay will have its upsides and downsides. The company needs to take things slowly or risk scaring automakers away.
For the automakers, especially those who are lagging behind in tech, it seems to be a golden opportunity for them to catch up.