Audi Jumps on Apple’s CarPlay Bandwagon

Source: Apple.com

Premium automaker Audi has announced via a press release that it will begin integrating Apple’s (NASDAQ:AAPL) CarPlay platform into its vehicles. Audi, a majority-owned subsidiary of Volkswagen Group, said Apple’s in-vehicle device integration system will be available in in the first Audi models starting in 2015.

Earlier this year, Audi was the only luxury automaker to become a founding member of Google’s (NASDAQ:GOOG) (NASDAQ:GOOGL) Open Automotive Alliance (OAA), an organization that seeks to integrate Android-based devices with vehicles’ built-in control systems and in-dash displays under the Android Auto banner. Other OAA members include GM (NYSE:GM), Honda (NYSE:HMC), Hyundai and chipmaker Nvidia (NASDAQ:NVDA). However, like many other automakers, Audi is providing support for several different in-vehicle device integration systems, so consumers don’t have to worry about finding a vehicle that is compatible with their smartphone operating system.

“Our customers want to be ‘always on’ and use the services they know from their smartphones in cars as well,” noted Prof. Dr. Ulrich Hackenberg, Board Member for Technical Development at Audi AG via a press release. “In this regard, we are working closely with leading companies like Google and Apple. In the future, customers will be able to use the functions available to them on their smartphones via the operating systems in their cars as well.”

Although Apple first introduced its in-vehicle device integration system at last year’s Worldwide Developers Conference as iOS in the Car, it rebranded the system earlier this year as CarPlay. The Siri-powered system allows iPhone users to make calls, listen to messages, and dictate responses, all without using their hands. CarPlay also includes support for Apple Maps, iTunes Radio, and many other third-party apps. CarPlay was included in an iOS 7 update and works with the iPhone 5 and later iPhone models.

At its recent I/O developer conference in San Francisco, Google highlighted various Android Auto features that are comparable to the ones found in CarPlay, including the ability to run apps via a voice-activated control system. Not surprisingly, Google Maps and Google Play Music also figured prominently in the Android Auto system. Google also revealed that it has over twenty-eight automaker partners that will begin shipping Android Auto-equipped cars by the end of 2014.

As noted by Apple, Ferrari, Mercedes-Benz, and Volvo have already unveiled CarPlay-compatible vehicles, while BMW, Ford (NYSE:F), GM, Honda, Hyundai, Jaguar Land Rover, Kia, Mitsubishi, Nissan, PSA Peugeot Citroën, Subaru, Suzuki and Toyota (NYSE:TM) have all committed to integrating CarPlay into future vehicle models. Audi is the first automaker to join Apple’s initially announced group of CarPlay partners. Meanwhile, both Pioneer and Alpine have Carplay-compatible aftermarket infotainment systems in the works, according to Macworld.

According to market research firm ABI Research, shipments of in-vehicle device integration systems are expected to grow significantly over the next several years to reach 35.1 million units worldwide by 2018. Obviously, both Google and Apple are deeply interested in this increasingly important market. However, with automakers unwilling to lose customers by making an exclusive commitment to one platform, it seems that the in-vehicle device integration system market will simply become another battlefront in the overall mobile operating system market.

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