CarPlay brings iPhone into the car

March 03, 2014 // By Christoph Hammerschmidt
At the Geneva International Motor Show later this week, Apple will introduce an improved approach to integrate its iOS7 mobile devices operating system into vehicles. First customers are Daimler, Ferrari and Volvo - other carmakers are already lining up to also integrate the software.

About a year ago, Apple introduced what it called "iOS in the Car", which however did not receive a warm welcome from parts of the automotive industry. "Too little, too late" was the tenor of analyst assessments. In the meantime, Apple provided some improvements and renamed it CarPlay - and apparently succeeded in convincing some of the most prestigious carmakers to take the system into their vehicles.

The system integrates iPhones into the vehicle's user interface. The degree of integration goes much farther than what hitherto was possible by tethering mechanisms, Apple claims. A central component is Apple's Siri voice control technology. The range of functions includes Apple's Maps service - another service that originally was much criticized for multiple errors in the map material as well as in the software itself, but apparently Apple has ironed out most of the problems. With Siri, users can select a destination for the navigation system, dictate a message to send or make a phone call. In addition, the voice control system allows users to access the multimedia content on the iPhone. The system is optimized to minimize driver's distraction, Apple claims. Maps are displayed at the built-in screens in the car.

Daimler's in-car connectivity platform Comand Online already provided access to smartphones connected to the vehicle's electronics and extended their user interface to the vehicle's buttons and displays. Apple promises that CarPlay will extend the functionality.

Not all apps installed at the smartphone can be used while the device is active in the vehicle - most carmakers have assessment and certification programs in place to make sure the app does not distract the driver too much.

Apples success comes at an interesting moment - only days after information leaked out that Ford Motor Company plans to dump Microsoft as the operating system vendor for its SYNC infotainment platform.

With Daimler, Ferrari and Volvo being the first partners, Apple has picked some of