What a difference a year makes. At the start of 2014, we were told of the wave of automakers adopting the Apple CarPlay infotainment platform by the end of the year. We also received news of automakers touting their proprietary app development platforms and “stores” that would ensure branding consistency throughout the center stack.
If the 2015 Consumer Electronics Show is any indicator, this year is setting up to be the year that Apple and Google finally dominate the dashboard.
Following up from their mid-2014 decisions to move away from proprietary infotainment app development (at least for now), many automakers appear to be embracing the capabilities of Apple and Google in app development, device compatibility and consumer preference.
At CES, Audi, Hyundai and Volkswagen all announced that they will offer Android Auto/CarPlay ready infotainment systems for the 2015 model year. And to raise the stakes further, Audi and Hyundai announced smartwatch integration, while Volkswagen will add inductive smartphone charging. Other automakers will follow suit in 2015, including General Motors, with the likelihood of building the Android Auto platform directly into the dashboard thus better integrating with vehicle’s built-in features and not having to rely on a tethered smartphone for a connection to the cloud.
Having these technologies in new vehicles is great, but what solutions are available for that late-model Honda Civic sitting in your driveway? Consumer electronics brands Pioneer and Alpine are already shipping multiple replacement radios that incorporate Apple CarPlay. At CES, both brands, along with Kenwood, have announced Android Auto/CarPlay ready products that will ship in early 2015. Better known for its Bluetooth and drone technologies, French company Parrot has also jumped into the game with its newest in-dash system capable of supporting both infotainment platforms.
Judging from what we are seeing at CES, automakers and aftermarket electronics companies are rushing Android Auto/CarPlay compatibility to market, effectively handing over their infotainment platform development to Apple and Google. The move makes sense for automakers as they try to deliver on the connected lifestyle expectations of their customers. Whether tying themselves so closely to Apple and Google works for the consumer electronics aftermarket remains to be seen, although initial response from mobile electronics retailers seems to be positive.