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Apple CarPlay Puts Siri in the Driver's Seat

Sarah Thomas
3/3/2014
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Apple is staking its claim in the connected vehicle market with CarPlay, an operating system update for iPhone users designed to enable better in-car interaction -- with help from Siri, too.

Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL) announced CarPlay, its rebranded "iOS in the Car" platform, at the Geneva auto show Monday, along with an impressive line up of partners. Ferrari, Mercedes-Benz, and Volvo are showing off CarPlay in their vehicles this week, but the iPhone maker has also brokered commitments from a slew of carmakers, including BMW Group, Ford, General Motors, Honda, Hyundai Motor Company, Jaguar Land Rover, Kia Motors, Mitsubishi Motors, Nissan Motor Company, PSA Peugeot Citroën, Subaru, Suzuki, and Toyota Motor Corp.

CarPlay integrates an iPhone with a car's native communications interface and enables drivers to make calls, access maps, listen to music, or see messages from the dashboard, all hands-free via a Siri-powered push-and-hold voice control button on the steering wheel.

CarPlay comes in the form of an update to iOS 7 and will be available in select cars this year. It will only work with the iPhone 5s, iPhone 5c, and iPhone 5 at launch.

MWC: The Car Show?
Connected car demos, from new Corvettes to old school buses, were among the most popular at Mobile World Congress -- and not just in the GSMA's Connected City pavilion.
Connected car demos, from new Corvettes to old school buses, were among the most popular at Mobile World Congress -- and not just in the GSMA's Connected City pavilion.

Why this matters
If this year's Mobile World Congress taught us anything, it's that connected cars are the hottest segment in machine-to-machine (M2M) telemetry and carmakers are the most sought-after partners for the communications market's players. There wasn't a hall that didn't feature at least one connected vehicle, and it was one topic all the mobile execs were eager to talk about. (See GSMA Unveils Connected City Details.)

That's because the wireless operators are vying to provide LTE connectivity to cars, and many would certainly like to partner with Apple on the experience. CarPlay works over the phone's cellular connection, but that could end up being a less than stellar experience in motion. However, Bluetooth and WiFi are among the other technologies competing with cellular to be the access network of choice.

The connected car space has a lot of issues still to be worked out, such as how to make money on in-car services and achieve the balance between value-added services and distracted driving, but Apple's commitment to the connected car will likely make the space even more attractive for its iPhone operator partners. (See Finding the Value in Transportation Telematics.)

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— Sarah Reedy, Senior Editor, Light Reading

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pcharles09
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pcharles09,
User Rank: Light Beer
3/18/2014 | 7:57:40 PM
Re: iOS 7.1
I wouldn't be surprised. It seems like a mutually beneficial agreement. More for Nuance since they'd be getting a nice fat check behind the scenes while Apple provides them with the biggest beta program ever, at least for the RTM codebase.
Mitch Wagner
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Mitch Wagner,
User Rank: Lightning
3/18/2014 | 6:45:28 PM
Re: iOS 7.1
It is widely believed that Apple uses Nuance technology. I don't know that it has ever been confirmed.
SachinEE
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SachinEE,
User Rank: Light Sabre
3/6/2014 | 1:12:18 PM
Re : Apple CarPlay Puts Siri in the Driver's Seat
@ brookseven, that's a great lesson for new learners. My father taught something exactly like this when I used to drive with him. He said that always consider that everyone else on the road doesn't know how to drive at all and you are on a mission to save yourself. So try to save you by doing everything right and being ever vigilant of others on the road.
SachinEE
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SachinEE,
User Rank: Light Sabre
3/6/2014 | 1:11:38 PM
Re : Apple CarPlay Puts Siri in the Driver's Seat
@ Phil_Britt, handsfree is certainly not the answer. Few people do the calling while driving with phone in their hand to the ear. Most of the people already use handsfree for calling during driving. Problem is not with engaging with the phone, but with the distraction that talking to someone causes. Amount of distraction will definitely increase as keep adding such features to cars, but there are already many distractions that this might not create the buzz as many people are expecting.
mhhf1ve
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mhhf1ve,
User Rank: Light Sabre
3/5/2014 | 4:23:19 PM
Re: iOS 7.1
I thought Siri was powered by Nuance technology (I might be wrong about that now), so Apple might not have entire control over how its voice recognition capabilities work. It's a bit strange for Apple to outsource a function like that, but voice recognition isn't that easy to do. (Google created its own voice recognition algorithms and jumpstarted its own database of voice samples by providing 1-800-GOOG-411 a few years ago.) 

Voice recognition is hard to do -- especially if you want it to handle general commands, and not a limited scope of operations like "turn up/down the volume" or "what's the weather/traffic like?" -- Apple is pretty good about limiting the functionality of its devices to improve the user experience, so I'd be surprised if they fell into the trap of expanding Siri's abilities at the risk of making the UI less user friendly.
Susan Fourtané
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Susan Fourtané,
User Rank: Blogger
3/5/2014 | 12:38:32 AM
Re: relax, it's just software
Ariella, 

Good idea! :D But maybe having only one talking. 

-Susan
Susan Fourtané
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Susan Fourtané,
User Rank: Blogger
3/5/2014 | 12:32:26 AM
Re: relax, it's just software
futurephil, 

You just wait. Soon Siri is going to be integrated to everything in your life. 

-Susan
Mitch Wagner
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Mitch Wagner,
User Rank: Lightning
3/4/2014 | 11:45:46 PM
iOS 7.1
So now the car is a phone accessory, like a bluetooth headset or a case.

iOS 7 is reportedly due "any day now."

I wonder whether the Google Maps app will work with the car OS?

Apple needs to broaden Siri so that you can do anything with Siri that you can do by touching the screen or typing. The voice recognition is the hard part, and Apple already does a pretty good job with that. 
mhhf1ve
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mhhf1ve,
User Rank: Light Sabre
3/4/2014 | 7:15:35 PM
Will this spur Google to encourage more Android-based car dashboards?
Apple presumably is a "high-touch" partner to work with for an automaker. That's good if Apple lends its design expertise to make Carplay a user-friendly experience, but not so good if Apple also insists on automakers creating specific hardware and following strict design guidelines that don't allow automakers to create distinctive/unique dashboards.

Android-based "car radios" have already hit the market, but will Google try harder to get Android-based systems installed as OEM devices?  Do you want your Chevy giving you directions and then displaying an ad on your dashboard?

Google's Android platform hasn't held device makers to too many strict guidelines for their hardware, so in that sense, Android might be a more attractive option for automakers who want more control over the look and feel of their interiors. Android could also be a less expensive alternative to iOS..?
Ariella
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Ariella,
User Rank: Light Sabre
3/4/2014 | 10:49:13 AM
Re: is the industry prepared for the inevitable backlash?
@brookseven too true! That's the thing: even if you're doing everything right, you can rely on others to yield the right of way as expected or even to come to a full stop at a stop sign. And then there are those who regard even red lights as mere suggestions, the same way they regard speed limits.
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