The Intersection 8-28-22 | Automotive News

New Apple CarPlay sets up dashboard showdown

Apple Car Play

Automakers have long struggled at infotainment, MyFord Touch being a prime example from the previous decade. So when Apple CarPlay and Google’s Android Auto debuted in 2014, they put most automakers’ infotainment systems to shame.

The features replicate their respective smartphone apps for phoning, messaging, navigation and more on a car’s in-dash screen. And they also include third-party apps such as Waze, Pandora and others that are controlled via a car’s touchscreen and voice control.

Because CarPlay and Android Auto are uniform across all vehicles, automakers lose any brand differentiation on in-dash displays. And perhaps more importantly, data from, say, a navigation search or Pandora playlist go to the tech giants, not automakers.

Early on German automakers Audi, Mercedes-Benz and Volkswagen expressed concerns about Apple’s incursion into the dashboard. Toyota even resisted adding CarPlay and Android Auto until 2018. But they all eventually capitulated due to consumer demand and competitive issues.

Fast forward to June: Apple unveiled a new version of CarPlay at its Worldwide Developer Conference that takes control of every screen in a car — replacing even more user interfaces and controls — and accesses additional vehicle and driver data.

Apple said in a video presentation at the Worldwide Developer Conference that it’s “working with automakers around the world” to implement the new version of CarPlay. The video displayed 14 major car company logos and Apple said the new version would be available in vehicles starting late next year.

The car companies that responded to Automotive News queries — General Motors, Hyundai and Mercedes-Benz — all replied with a variation of “no comment.”

Since 98 percent of new vehicles now come with CarPlay, Apple has incredible leverage over automakers. With Fortune Business Insights predicting that the global connected car market will grow from nearly $60 billion in 2021 to more than $190 billion in 2028, the new version of CarPlay sets up a big-dollar battleground between Apple and automakers.

The conundrum of automakers — needing to offer new tech to compete, but upsetting consumers when the execution isn’t perfect — was captured in a JD Power study released last week.

Google has already moved deeper into the dashboard with General Motors, Volvo/Polestar, Nissan and others implementing its Android Automotive Operating System (not to be confused with Android Auto, which works more like CarPlay). Android Automotive is an agnostic automotive operating system that lets automakers build their own systems and restrict or allow anything to run on it — and collect and control vehicle data.

But it also supports Apple CarPlay, because customers demand it.

Doug Newcomb