As CES (the Consumer Electronics Show) 2015 wraps up we’re left salivating at the tech that the future holds. Between HealthKit, HomeKit and CarPlay, there is a lot of Apple related news to discuss. This week I’ll focus on the CarPlay side of CES 2015.
What is CarPlay?
CarPlay is Apple’s solution to integrated iPhone use within the car. Simply put, your phone connects to the in-dash system your car already has and allows you to use the apps you would normally use while driving. Be it Maps, Messages or Music, CarPlay is a safe and convenient way to access your apps wrapped in a sexy Apple package. CarPlay allows you to interface with your favorite apps via your voice, touch, or other physical controls your vehicle already has.
CarPlay was introduced in 2014, and since then essentially every car manufacturer you can think of has some sort of plan to roll out CarPlay in their vehicles. Up until recently, if you wanted to experience CarPlay, you would have had to buy a new car. However, this year, at CES, we saw a plethora of aftermarket options that bring CarPlay to any vehicle you’d like.
Apple CarPlay vs. Android Auto
CarPlay isn’t the only smartphone integrated system in the game. Recently, Android stepped up to the plate and introduced Android Auto. Android Auto does essentially the exact same thing that CarPlay does, only in an Android package. With the feverish smartphone rivalry creeping into the car market, consumers were left wondering what their options were. When we buy a car, are we going to have to choose between an Apple integrated car or a an Android integrated car? Nay, says the tech companies of CES! Luckily for consumers, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto can coexist within the same after market head unit, or vehicle.
Pioneer and Kenwood both introduced after market head units that feature not only their own proprietary operating systems, but also CarPlay AND Android Auto. Taking a step in the same direction, Volkswagen announced that their 2016 model vehicles will feature VW’s MirrorLink, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto as well. Mercedes-Benz and Volvo are rumored to follow suit. This sort of unified integration is great for consumers who should not be limited to which vehicles they can purchase because of the smartphone ecosystem they have chosen to reside in.
Harman Shakes Things Up
Stepping out of the in-dash CarPlay archetype, Harman introduces the “Integrated Essentials Cockpit.” Harman’s IEC is interesting because it aims to unify the screens used in the center console and behind the steering wheel. On a single screen behind the steering wheel you have your fuel gauge, current temperature, speedometer and CarPlay all on the same display. This means your eyes can remained focused on the road in front of you instead of glancing towards the center console. All pertinent information about your vehicle as well as the CarPlay apps you would normally be accessing are available conveniently behind your steering wheel. In addition, due to the location of the unit, it is controlled via a touchpad on the steering wheel, as opposed to the traditional touch screen.
Griffin iTrip AUX Bluetooth
Lastly, from CES, unrelated to CarPlay, but related to car audio, it’s the Griffin iTrip AUX Bluetooth. Griffin aims to bring bluetooth audio to systems that have an AUX port, but no bluetooth capability. Simply plug one end of the Griffin device into your system’s AUX port, and the other into your car’s DC power outlet and voila! Inexpensive and convenient bluetooth audio in your car.
The Future of CarPlay
Within the coming years iOS in the car will be so convenient and commonplace we’ll wonder how we lived without it for so long. Until then, we’re left to marvel at the potential it holds until prices drop and CarPlay becomes more commonplace.
-Shatter Buggy, Denver