The more I look at Apple’s CarPlay, the more I like it. It’s simple, it’s brilliant and it’s everything Apple is supposed to be, innovative, but it’s not revolutionary. Apple created great products in the past, and CarPlay does something every manufacturer seem to stumble upon. By reinventing the wheel of what an infotainment system should be, it reflects what I already know.
Infotainment done right
As automotive journalists, we get to test drive a lot of cars. That usually means getting to know them, figuring out their quirks and finally seeing how well they the demands of their targeted clientèle. However, there is one thing I dislike intensely, learning a new infotainment system for every manufacturer as well as their numerous updates.
Smart cellphones and silly infotainment systems
On the positive side, Tesla Motors has one of the very best infotainment system around. It suffers little to no gripes – save for the learning curve it takes to familiarize yourself with it. So why don’t carmakers offer us the capacity to mirror what we are already familiar with onto our smartphones? All they need is a display, leaving the dash to show the relevant car information.
In Tesla’s case, that would be very, very easy. The Model S already offers a generous display powered by a more than capable Nvidia GPU, itself relying on yet another Nvidia GPU for the rest of the system. Since the screens can be split, why not offer the option to mirror your smart phone?
Apple got it
I also never understood why Apple sat on the sidelines while Ford used Windows for its infotainment system. Apple showed late at car shows in 2009. I told them it was about time and that there was a great need for simple interface. Apple’s CarPlay system fits the bill. It’s innovative, yet simple. All it really does is allow an iOS users to make voice calls, listen to their music collection, view maps, while receiving and sending messages through touch and voice activated controls. And yes, Apple’s famous, or infamous Siri, its voice activation assistant, is available at the touch of a button on the steering wheel.
No matter how great Apple is, there are drawbacks. Not every Model S driver has an iPhone, for one thing and even those with iPhones will need the newer 5 and 5S. This leaves a good proportion of IOS users unable to use CarPlay. This strategy will push Apple’s already hefty bottom line up, but it means if you are a Blackberry, an Android, or older iPhone user, you won’t be able to access the system. Make it backward compatible. After all, you’re mirroring IOS.
Simple. Let us see what we’re used to when we step into a car. No one wants to have to learn a new system. We already have enough computers at home, running different operating systems, and don’t need yet another system vying for our attention. Please carmakers and software developers, simplify our lives.
And now, just when you think your connected life wasn’t convoluted enough, Google is rumored to be working on their very own infotainment system, while Microsoft is revealing its Windows in the Car concept. Really, do we need more Infosystems? How about showing me what I already know? Am I the only one feeling this way?