Apple is taking the idea of a car phone to the next level with the CarPlay platform —Apple's iOS solution for the car.
Promoted as a "smarter, safer way to use your iPhone in the car," CarPlay allows your iPhone to handle much of the digital controls.
There's no argument that a phone offers numerous benefits in a car, fron navigation and real time traffic updates to information about a last minute change of plans. But I doubt many people think actually using a phone while driving is safe.
That's the reality companies like Apple and auto manufacturers are trying to address with solutions like CarPlay, which essentially move the brains of the car from inside the dash to the driver's smartphone.
What CarPlay Offers
At the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) 2015 earlier this month, a few key announcements gave a lot more insight into some of the key features of CarPlay.
The first is that CarPlay will support wireless connectivity to the car. That means the phone does not need to be plugged into the car's USB port to function. This will provide a great deal of freedom to the driver, who will no longer have to worry about things as mundane as plugging in the phone or worrying about a bad cable.
CarPlay will rely on apps developed by both auto manufactures and third party developers.
It will allow drivers in select cars that support the platform to control their phones with Siri voice commands as well as the touch screens and control knobs in the car. Drivers will be able to access and control apps as well as features of the phone, like listening to music, using navigation and taking calls.
A Logical Evolution
Integrating smartphones with cars is a smart move for both the communications and auto industries. Owners are keeping their cars longer and industry is advancing at a much faster pace then the auto industry.
According to Consumer Reports, the average car is 11 years old and trending upward. If an auto manufacturer builds a digital system into a new car, it will outdated in five years — and virtually obsolete in 11.
By moving the digital brain of the car from the dashboard to the driver's mobile device, automakers can focus on software development. Software is much easier to change and update than aging in-vehicle computers.
Automakers will be able t develop software that offers a more enriched driving experience, one that takes advantage of the hardware the driver brings into the car. Most people upgrade their smartphones every few years, meaning they will continually bring more power and resources to the cars' digital systems.
Platforms like Apples CarPlay and the Google equivalent, Android Auto, are a smart options.
They further entwine smartphones in everyday life and free automakers from the need to worry about outdated computer systems in older vehicles. If, in the process, it creates a safer and more context rich driving experience, then I say chalk this one up as a win for the Internet of Things.
Title image by That Hartford Guy.