has released an update to its latest mobile OS with iOS 7.1, and among the bug fixes and miscellaneous tweaks, there’s a big new feature with CarPlay
. CarPlay allows you to connect your iPhone
to your vehicle in a powerful way, most notably by bringing up a variety of apps and tools from your iPhone to the car’s built-in display.
You can control CarPlay with Siri
voice commands, use the vehicle’s touch display, and even use the car’s own knobs and other controls. That means that maps and driving directions, calls, messaging, and music can all be seamlessly run from your iPhone to your car.
Some apps that will work with CarPlay right off the bat include Podcasts, Spotify, Beats Music, iHeartRadio, and Stitcher. The first car brands to support CarPlay in 2014 are Ferrari, Honda, Hyundai, Mercedes-Benz, and Volvo.
However, most carmakers are committed to CarPlay at some point in the (presumably near) future, including BMW, Toyota, Chevy, Ford, Subaru, Nissan, KIA, and more.
CarPlay is compatible with the iPhone 5, 5S, and 5C. Other new features from the iOS 7.1 update include various bug fixes and tweaks, better performance for iPhone 4 users, a refreshed look for calls and calendar, automatic HDR, and manual Siri controls.
CarPlay may be the most significant thing Apple has done since Steve Jobs passed. The product seems to be a completely natural evolution of smartphone technology, and Apple is going to win big by being the first to roll out in-car tech that “just works” with its existing lineup of smartphones. The fact that Apple already such a complete cadre of carmakers on board would indicate that CarPlay is going to be a success.
The most glaring issue, of course, is the need to put touch screen displays in vehicles. Presumably--at some point, if not at first--you’ll be able to add the touchscreen portion as an aftermarket add-on. At least, you will if Apple is smart.
Imagine that for a few hundred dollars you could integrate your iPhone with your car’a navigation, music, and calls and messaging systems. That’s a compelling use case for a lot of people to either buy in to the iOS ecosystem or remain attached to it, and that’s exactly the sort of must-have value-add that Apple needs to offer customers to better compete with Android.