Between Apple’s (NASDAQ:AAPL) CarPlay and Google’s (NASDAQ:GOOG) (NASDAQ:GOOGL) Android Auto, it seems that car manufacturers are getting serious about bringing plug and play mobile operating system functionality to new cars in 2014 and beyond.
According to its website, Apple has signed up nine more car manufacturers for CarPlay, adding Abarth, Alfa Romeo, Audi (AUDVF.PK), Chrysler, Dodge, Fiat (FIATY.PK), Jeep, Mazda (MZDAF.PK), and Ram to the existing list of manufacturers offering current or future models equipped with the technology. Others previously signed up were BMW (BAMXY.PK), Chevrolet, Citroen, Ferrari, Ford (NYSE:F), Honda (NYSE:HMC), Hyundai (HYMTF.PK), Jaguar, Kia (KIMTF.PK), Land Rover, Mercedes-Benz, Mitsubishi (MMTOF.PK), Nissan (NSANY.PK), Opel, Peugeot (PEUGF.PK), Subaru, Suzuki (SZKMF.PK), Toyota (TOYOF.PK), and Volvo (VOLVY.PK).
Apple touts CarPlay as “the best iPhone experience on four wheels.” The technology is designed for users who already own an iPhone, and provides them with a safer way to use the smartphone in the car by putting the interface on a display built in to the car. CarPlay uses Siri voice control to enable users to make calls, send and receive messages, hear alerts, or listen to music while driving.
Apple Maps is integrated into the interface, can offer turn-by-turn directions, and can predict addresses based on information in text messages, emails, contact profiles, or calendars. Apple says that CarPlay also supports apps, and has so far named Podcasts, Beats Music, iHeart Radio, At Bat, Spotify, and Stitcher as those that are integrated so far. The interface can be controlled via knobs and buttons that control a display, or via a touchscreen display itself.
Several of the manufacturers who are making cars that support CarPlay also support the competing Android Auto by Google. Android Auto provides access via voice recognition to Google Maps, Google Search, Google Play Music, plus email, text messaging, and voicemail. The software also supports third-party apps, like Spotify and Pandora (NYSE:P).
Both systems provide a smart shortcut to getting the Android and iOS software into users’ cars, since all a consumer needs to do is plug in his or her smartphone. Apple’s system uses a Lightning cable, while Google’s uses MicroUSB, but the system requirements are similar enough that some car makers will support both systems at once, offering users more choice and more flexibility.