Apple’s CarPlay looks like the future of in-car infotainment

“Ferrari has become the first car manufacturer to adopt Apple CarPlay, a new infotainment system that let’s you see the iPhone interface displayed on the car’s touch screen and access apps in exactly the same way you would on the phone itself,” Stuff Magazine reports. “Why would a master of style like Ferrari need to avail itself of Apple’s talents in quite such an undiluted, literal way?”

“A quick look through the legion of infotainment in cars across the board gives a pretty good idea of why. While some are OK, many are downright clunky,” Stuff reports. “The history of the modern, connected, infotainment screen can be traced back to the first generation BMW iDrive system launched on the 7-Series in 2001. Based on the Windows CE operating system, the design of the iDrive interface was counter intuitive in just about every respect,” Stuff reports. “So perhaps leaving the design of an infotainment system’s graphical user interface to the people who invented the graphical user interface isn’t such a bad idea after all.”

“Although it’s starting in pole position, Ferrari won’t be the only manufacturer to take CarPlay. Volvo announced it will launch the system in the XC90 next year, Nissan will also be also introducing it to the lineup in 2015 and so will 14 other manufacturers at some stage, including Mercedes. Does CarPlay represent the future of in-car Infotainment systems?” Stuff reports. “Judging by the seamless way the iPhone integrates with the Ferrari and that fact that for an existing iPhone user, the learning curve is zero, it certainly looks that way.”

Read more in the full article here.

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41 Comments

  1. QNX and Apple need to consider the fact that a centre screen console is the wrong place for safe driving. The Saturn ION had its display on the centre dash, with the normal dials that most cars conceal in behind the top part of a steering wheel.
    What is needed is one screen with all the displays in one place, nicely integrated and totally redesigned. Not off to the side, but directly in front of the driver so that it can be viewed whilst keeping his eyes front, where the road is. Surely this would improve road safety and at the same time accommodate the CarPlay, odometer, oil gauge, temp gauge, tach and clock… not rocket science but totally missing from the current thinking.

    1. 1) It’s the manufacturer that decides where it wants the screen. 2) QNX is not something that would decide anything. QNX is not an organization; it is an operating system owned by Blackberry. I am sure Blackberry will put a screen anywhere a paying customer asks them. 3) the only thing Apple and QNX have in common is that Apple CarPlay has been optimized to be offered by car manufacturers that use QNX for their infotainment systems, however the relationship between Blackberry and Apple is not exclusive.

      1. As if I didn’t know that. Given the mess that the driver confronts with all sorts of horrible interfaces, consolidation is what is needed. The manufacturers would have a choice of giving up their unique interface or not. Ultimately once a superior interface is made available, the consumer,not the manufacturer, will decide. But someone has to lead, and Apple and QNX (BlackBerry) would be the logical choice for that role, particularly as they are not auto manufacturers and are thus in a neutral position to negotiate etc.

        1. I don’t find my dashboard as daunting as you seem to find yours. The center screen replaces controls that have been in that location for decades. My parents had an 86 Buick Riviera with a center mounted touch screen. I’m pretty sure they are here to stay. Additionally, the manufacturers are the ones that you should pin your hopes on making these changes; Apple, Blackberry, Microsoft are all just venders as far as they are concerned.

          1. As a matter of fact I have two Highline TDI VW diesels which have a very nice touchscreen in the centre dash. The iPad interface is understood by millions of people, which is certainly not so with the unique VW screen which has text on it that has to be read in order to operate, which is why the driver’s eyeballs are off the road to do that. While CarPlay is a big advance, and is built on top of the QNX operating system, there is no reason why the screen couldn’t show speed, tach, oil, temp. info that is at present on the screen in front of the steering wheel. Except that each manufacturer wants to be different. Nobody is going to take the lead on this, unless it is Apple, and it would probably need QNX collaboration.

            I would like to see VW work with Apple and just get it done. That’s the reason for my input. It will probably happen, but it could take three or more years.

            1. Back to my original reason for responding to your post. CarPlay is not “built on top” of QNX. It can be interfaced through QNX or other operating systems. It will work absolutely the same in cars that do not use QNX.

            2. I would suspect that if opportunity arose Apple would be happy to suggest and visualise integration of screens indeed as they have worked so closely with Ferrari in recent years their input has been there. However the last thing that Apple would wish is being seen to dictate such matters as it would likely go down very badly with companies they need on their side if apple is felt to be telling them their business, be it right or wrong nothing would wind them up quicker and I’m sure Google would love to offer them ‘supportive’ love in that scenario.

              What I would like to see however is at some stage Apple producing a reference system if they feel something fresh, new and superior can indeed be produced along the lines you suggest. However there are all sorts of plusses and minuses and cross arguments that health and safety will play a role in and thus I think that a more traditional usage is seen as the best way forward for now. If the screen is in front of the driver it could be safer if used as an occasional reference point as now however I guess H&S bodies would also claim that it would as such be used through convenience far more and thus eyes distracted all the more. Equally a central location could be claimed to give access to driver and passenger whereas in front of driver could be seen as excluding safe use by a passenger adding burden to the driver. Problem is that once designed in it would be a disaster to change it due to criticism be that criticism accurate, perceived or otherwise in terms of safety. No manufacturer wants to risk that.

    2. So you would prefer the driver (and the front passenger) to be threading their arms around the physical controls placed about the steering wheel to get at the touch screen? For me, I’ll stik with it being placed to the side as long as it is easily reachable without stretching.

    3. Another solution is to put the display as an integral part of the steering wheel. The wheel will turn, but the centre display will not. As for reaching past the steering wheel to touch a screen, that presents a problem that a heads up display might possibly resolve. Another approach might be a voice command to open up one of the icons, such as a ship captain in the Royal Navy might call upon Number 3 to activate a third mate. Right now the centre part of my steering wheel has a bunch of little buttons to the right and left of the VW hub. One thinks of the little buttons on smart phones before the iPhone. Or, an integrated iPad mini could be centred on the steering wheel. If it’s a good idea for buttons on a steering wheel , then why not a touch screen?? What would Steve say?

    1. They are. They’ve already dumped Microsoft in favor of QNX, and have announced support for CarPlay. Apparently Ford are going with multiple options. After all, not everyone uses an iPhone.

  2. I think car manufacturers need to remember that there physical controls still have a role. I can flick a switch, or press a button on my steering wheel or reach for the air con vents and controls without even looking. If i’m having to faff about when driving to see where to press on a screen then I’m paying next to no attention to the road.

  3. CarPlay will die a quick seat like ITunes Radio. The interface looks washed out & amateurish and does not befit the $300,000 Ferrari that it’s supposed to be fitted.

    Downmarket, low class & shoddy, that’s the new Apple.

    1. C’mon guys. I know everyone get’s down ranked with even the inkling of criticism of anything that Apple has created and produces (even when they don’t work like mobile me the first go round) but while I’m sure carplay is somewhat functional (at least from the videos we’ve seen) but the interface is in no way sleek or chic or befitting the style and class of some of these high end cars it will be placed in. I know this is just my opinion and everyone has their own sense of style but the rainbow colored icons smattered about the screen just aren’t (at least in my opinion) slick or sleek. Now some of the submenu’s and interfaces for a couple of the apps looks pretty nice but the main menus just don’t look professional and sleek. Additionally I guess some of this could be overlooked if the interface was super smooth and responsive but from all the videos on the 5 different cars I’ve seen so far it seems laggy and unresponsive and certainly un-apple like.

  4. I totally agree on the idea that “touch” that requires looking at the screen is eventually cause accidents.If you look at the news reports of accidents while texting, you can see what will be multiplied if we do touch screens in cars. In the last 4 years, I have been hit in the back twice while sitting at a stop light by people who were texting. In the case of the last one, the car was occupied by two high school girls. When I got out of the car to go back and talk to them about the accident, they both continued to text while I was standing there trying to get their attention, they did not even look at me. When the light changed the driver, with one hand put the car in reverse and then steered around my car and continued on. There was no damage to my car, and because I did not want to deal with the presumably ignorant parents, I just let it go. I work in a school system, and life has changed. Parents now stick up for their kids No Matter what they do, and it has made things a lot worse. We cannot get backing from them on discipline issues.

    And on the washed out interfaces that are the current fad? (Sorry Jonathon Ive) I am looking at a cable remote in front of me. The control buttons are designed with very low contrast gray lettering on black buttons in roughly a 3 point font. AH, BUT they have a FEATURE! Backlit lettering on the buttons when you push a button to make them readable! Sheer genius!…. Not…. It’s a joke! Movies where many scenes are shot in incredibly dark backgrounds, often 3/4 of the screen is black with a barely perceptible nearly grayscale image of the characters or the action.

    Hopefully this low contrast hairline font nonsense will pass the way of all fads. No we dont need neon, but there has to be a balance somewhere.

    End of rant. Call me a sad stoopid troll because I don’t automatically worship everything Johnny designs. Yes, I know he didn’t design my cable remote, so don’t go there.

    1. You shouldn’t need to read the text. Once you have the app icons laid out where you want them, it should be intuitive to just touch the appropriate app through peripheral vision, or as is much more likely, you’ll use Siri for control while driving.
      Also, in a car, the brighter, flatter, and far less overcomplicated app icons will be much easier to see and operate at a glance.
      This should be obvious to anyone who drives; except the brain-dead zombies among us…

      1. “just touch the appropriate app through peripheral vision”
        and the very next thing you hear might be a very loud metallic bang if you get my drift.
        My daughter is in search and rescue. She knows
        Siri is better but still takes away concentration.
        Just pull over and do it.

      2. You are a real charmer aren’t you Zombie Nation? Nothing to contribute except bile and crassness. Paid troll or amateur, please get off your computer and go and annoy someone face-to-face. Oh right, you wouldn’t have the courage to do that would you? Anonymous trolling is probably your life’s crowning achievement.

  5. My new 2014 Toyota Tundra, has a proprietary Toyota infotainment system. It Sucks! I am really disappointed. It really is crippled. It feels early beta, and lost in the woods. I have resorted to reaching down to my iPhone and talking to Siri through the car’s microphone.

  6. This quite possibly the Next Big Thing from Apple. There are about 50 million new cars sold in the US every year, if I’m remembering correctly. And if Apple made a drop-in, dual DIN module of its own it could also capture the aftermarket demand. Does anybody remember the Muntz 8 track tape players from the 1960’s? Muntz made a fortune overnight with add-on tape players. He sold millions of them in a very short time.

  7. saw a television commercial this afternoon for Chevrolet specifically advertising Siri and iPhone. Wasn’t paying attention ..just caught the tail end.

  8. Hopefully BMW will jump on the CarPlay bandwagon soon. After the initial iDrive disaster they’ve actually made that system work really well, but they’ve also been at the forefront of integrating iPhones into their cars. I’m surprised they haven’t announced CarPlay for BMW already.

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