It’s almost unimaginable to live without a smartphone, especially in today’s ever-expanding digital landscape. Mirroring your home screen experience on in-car infotainment is a blessing for many car enthusiasts. The integration is almost game-changing, with people basing their purchasing decisions on whether the car has Apple CarPlay or Android Auto.
But now there is a shift in the narrative. General Motors announced it will phase out Apple CarPlay and Android Auto starting with the 2024 Chevrolet Blazer EV. The company is pretty sure it will move to an Android Automotive-based infotainment setup for all future EVs.
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General Motors intends to collect more data for a seamless driving experience, which is a limitation with licensed products like Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. That’s why the Detroit giant has partnered with Google-founded Alphabet to develop navigation assistance that integrates Super Cruise, the company’s proprietary hands-free driver-assistance technology.
Ford, on the other hand, disagrees. GM’s home competitor will continue to offer Android Auto and Apple CarPlay in future models, as people want in-car screens to be an extension of their phone and not just another thing to grapple with.
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Ford Won’t Remove Apple CarPlay, But GM Will: Bradley Hasemeyer
It’s not as if GM is the only automaker taking a stand against Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Rivian and Tesla are popular automakers that don’t offer CarPlay in any of their products. However, Ford is poised to buck the trend.
In a statement to 9to5Mac, a Ford spokesman said: “We continue to offer Apple CarPlay and Android Auto because customers love the feature that allows easy access and control of their smartphone apps – particularly our EV customers as some EVs don’t currently offer those features.” CEO Jim Farley said in an interview with The Wall Street Journal that 70 percent of Ford customers use Apple, so removing the connectivity feature isn’t very customer-centric.
Unlike GM and Tesla, Ford’s CEO believes that the relationship between the customer and the “content” should never be disrupted. It’s not about having complete control over the interior experience. He further adds, “In terms of content, we kind of lost that battle ten years ago,” Farley said. “Well, face it, you’re not going to make much money from in-vehicle content.”
Even today, certain infotainment systems are still not particularly convincing when it comes to the user interface and usability. While JLR’s latest Pivi Pro system represents an improvement over previous devices, it still falls short of its competitors. Additionally, some in-car systems are cluttered and not very intuitive, leading owners to prefer mirroring their smartphone’s UI rather than operating the OEM unit.
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GM’s Ultifi-based infotainment experience will replace CarPlay in future Google models
Although it may seem controversial, GM has many reasons for introducing its own operating system. GM has been working with Google since 2019 to develop the software foundations for its bespoke infotainment unit, with a keen interest in subscription service integration.
Reuters reports that General Motors CEO Mary Barra is targeting $20 billion to $25 billion in annual subscription revenue by 2030. However, the focus of GM’s latest infotainment software will be on integrating its assisted driving systems.
In an interview with Reuters, Mike Hichme, Managing Director of Digital Cockpit Experience, said: “We have many new driver assistance features in the pipeline that are more closely linked to navigation. We don’t want to design these features to be dependent on whether someone has a mobile phone.
This move is exclusive to upcoming electric vehicles and will not include the 2024 Silverado Electric. In fact, GM will continue to offer Apple CarPlay and Android Auto in its gas-powered models until they are phased out. The Ultifi software approach, on the other hand, is a proprietary product that offers a vehicle experience similar to that of a smartphone.
No Apple CarPlay for in-house infotainment software: our opinion on Apple
Both Apple and Google are giants of the technology world. They earn their living by developing software. We’ve taken a look at what the next-gen Apple CarPlay looks like, and it’s every bit as exciting as the next iPhone. Android Automotive is also no problem. Polestar integrated the system well and we really enjoyed the experience.
However, you can’t leave everything to these tech giants. Some functions are better optimized by automotive brands, such as assisted driving and in-car safety. It’s nearly impossible to take smartphones out of the equation. They are woven into the fabric of today’s human-machine reality. The best we can do is find a balance, a seamless transition between the two interfaces.
To be honest, we’re not entirely convinced by the idea of removing a software experience that’s basic and falls within our area of expertise. If there is a system that will do the job, why throw it away when you can refine and improve it? Folks, let’s not reinvent the wheel!
Sources: Wall Street Journal, Reuters, 9to5Mac