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.
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