Apple iOS in the Car Infotainment System
Apple’s answer is to put the phone into the infotainment system. Creatively named iOS in the Car, Apple plans to integrate your iOS device with your vehicle.
Vehicle infotainment systems are nothing new. Over the last decade we’ve seen improvements to dashboard systems that control information and entertainment trickling down from luxury vehicles to economies of scale. Infotainment systems are now almost a commodity but in real-life testing proprietary automotive solutions are usually found lacking and deficient in common sense. Can Apple once again improve on the benchmarks and break the mould of vehicle infotainment?
During the keynote, Apple Senior Vice President Eddy Cue promised a system that will play your music, display maps and your text messages, and even read them with Siri. Most importantly, it replaces whatever infotainment operating system is built into the car with iOS. Say what you want about Apple’s products, but they are generally intuitive and easy to use. Nearly any child or computer illiterate person can pick up an iPad and figure things out fairly quickly – that has always been one of the manufacturer’s greatest strengths.
Apple is enhancing iPhone integration in cars with its latest software update, iOS 7. But not every new car will benefit from the added functionality. Starting in 2014, a dozen vehicle manufacturers will offer Apple’s new iOS in the Car. Brands that will offer iOS in the Car include Acura, Chevrolet, Ferrari, Honda, Hyundai, Infiniti, Jaguar, Kia, Opel, Mercedes-Benz, Nissan and Volvo. Exactly which models will get iOS in the Car and whether the feature will be standard or optional has not been announced.
While interesting news, this doesn’t necessarily put Apple ahead of the pack in the race to your vehicle dashboard. Several companies have been publicly going at it for some time now, including those bullish enough to put out proprietary solutions, like Mercedes and its gesture-based, augmented reality known as DICE. It remains to be seen how vehicle manufacturers react to the news, and whether they will accept conceding this much control of the infotainment system and related navigation profits. Short OS lifecycles are a major issue for vehicle manufacturers. The main issue is that car brands are not in the consumer technology business; they are in the transportation business.
But if there is one thing Apple is able to achieve time-and-time again is success. Providing customers with a very clear idea of how to use a relatively new product or service until it becomes an industry standard. That, along with the ubiquity of the iPhone, could mean that iOS in the Car has a real shot at transforming automotive infotainment as we know it. Nevertheless Google’s Android open-source infotainment system is more than capable of keeping up with Apple’s iOS in the Car.