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Apple’s CarPlay vs Android Automotive: Last Chance To Dominate Car Market?

Last Updated March 18, 2024 3:38 PM
Giuseppe Ciccomascolo
Last Updated March 18, 2024 3:38 PM

Key Takeaways

  • Apple has revamped CarPlay, hoping to establish itself in the car industry after abandoning its electric vehicle plans.
  • It might also offer a premium “CarPlay+” version with additional features.
  • While Apple’s working on new features, Android Automotive continues to hold a dominant market share.

Originally conceived as a countermeasure against Android, Apple‘s revamped CarPlay interface now stands as the tech titan’s final gambit to stake its claim in the automotive industry, following the abandonment of its electric vehicle plans.

Over nearly four years, the Cupertino-based company has diligently honed CarPlay’s features, viewing it as its ultimate opportunity to penetrate the automotive market. However, the challenge doesn’t rest solely on Apple’s shoulders, as it contends with the competition posed by Android Automotive.

What Is CarPlay?

Apple CarPlay, commonly referred to as CarPlay, is a software innovation crafted by Apple that seamlessly integrates select iPhone functionalities onto the dashboard display of compatible vehicles. Compatible with iPhone 5 and onwards, running iOS 7.1 or later, CarPlay elevates the in-car user experience to new heights.

Functioning as a bridge between the iPhone and the vehicle’s infotainment system, CarPlay offers a familiar interface tailored for ease of use. Users gain access to a suite of core iPhone applications, including Phone, Maps, Music, iMessage, iBooks, and Podcasts, all accessible within arm’s reach. Additionally, CarPlay harnesses the power of Siri, enabling hands-free interaction with supported apps. The platform also extends support for select third-party applications like Spotify, with the roster of available apps continually expanding.

The evolution of CarPlay, internally dubbed Project IronHeart at Apple, aims to revolutionize in-car connectivity by seamlessly integrating the system into the vehicle’s core functionalities. Envisioned enhancements include expanded screen real estate encompassing the instrument cluster, as well as integration with essential features such as the radio and air conditioning controls. This marks a significant departure from the current iteration of CarPlay, which primarily focuses on facilitating access to Apple services rather than full control over the vehicle’s functions.

Insider reports suggest that Apple may continue offering the original CarPlay as a complimentary feature. But it may introduce a premium variant – potentially dubbed CarPlay+ – that boasts enhanced capabilities and a refined user experience. This strategy aligns with Apple’s proven track record of introducing tiered pricing models akin to those seen with products like Apple TV, ensuring users have access to a range of options tailored to their needs.

How Does It Compare With Android Automotive?

When Apple made the decision to overhaul CarPlay, it was in response to the looming competition from Android. Google had already made inroads into the automotive sector with its Android Auto feature. It offers users a familiar smartphone-style interface for music, podcasts, voice commands, and navigation when connected to the car.

In recent years, major players like Polestar, Porsche, BMW, Volkswagen, Ford, Lucid, Stellantis, and General Motors have adopted Android Automotive. In just seven years, Android Automotive has become the dominant player in the car operating system market. It now commands the market with an estimated 35% share.

The revamped CarPlay is Apple’s response to this evolving landscape. Apple aims to entice both users and automakers with a sleeker interface and enhanced customization options. However, a key distinction remains: the new CarPlay still relies on the iPhone. It does not constitute a separate operating system embedded within the vehicle itself.

This is the main difference – but not the only one – between CarPlay and Android Automotive. Others regard compatibility, as CarPlay offers a curated selection of Apple apps, focusing heavily on services like Apple Maps and Music. While Android Automotive provides more flexibility with app choice. It also supports a wider range of third-party apps beyond Google services like Google Maps and Assistant.

Furthermore, Apple’s product primarily focuses on phone-based features like navigation, music, and messaging. It has Limited integration with car controls like climate or seat adjustments. Google’s one is designed for deeper integration with car features. Depending on the car model, it might allow control of climate, seat adjustments, and access to car diagnostics through the Android Automotive interface.

Apple’s Last Hope For Car Market?

Apple’s new CarPlay, announced in June 2022 and slated for release this year, has garnered formal support from only Porsche and Aston Martin thus far. The slow rollout is attributed to Apple’s collaboration with automakers to customize interfaces for each model despite the system not requiring full integration.

Primarily targeting luxury vehicles, the Aston Martin DB12 is the sole model confirmed to receive the new CarPlay. But its price is not for everyone’s pockets: $245,000. Porsche’s model incorporation remains undisclosed, indicating a limited industry uptake.

Sources suggest  Apple has no immediate plans to monetize the new software. It would maintain a stance similar to the current CarPlay version.

However, the cancellation of Apple’s car project prompts a reconsideration of its strategy. Apple must expedite CarPlay’s adoption and explore revenue avenues to avoid conceding the automotive sector to competitors.

Potential strategies include implementing fees for CarPlay integration, offering CarPlay+ as a premium upgrade, or simplifying customization options. These efforts are crucial for CarPlay’s expansion and establishing a foothold in the lucrative automotive market.

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