Apple takes Siri for a spin with launch of CarPlay, hands-free software for drivers

Apple takes Siri for a spin with launch of CarPlay, hands-free software for drivers

Summary: Apple has chosen the Geneva Motor Show to launch CarPlay, an in-car system for iOS users.

TOPICS: Apple, Mobility, EU

While the rumours rumble on about Apple's interest in buying car maker Tesla, the company has confirmed it's definitely got high-end vehicles in its sights — at least when it comes to software.

At the Geneva Motor Show today, Apple unveiled a product called CarPlay, a voice control system for the iPhone which allows drivers to use a number of iOS features hands-free.

The system means drivers can make calls or listen to voicemails from their Apple mobile, as well as pick up message notifications using voice commands, which will be read out by Siri. Drivers can also use the system to dictate their replies.

CarPlay can also predict a driver's journey "based on recent trips via contacts, emails or texts, and provides routing instructions, traffic conditions and ETA" on Apple Maps. There's also the option to get the maps sent to the vehicle's onboard display.

And for those that need a few tunes while driving, the system will mean users can pick a song or podcast to listen to from the car's controls or by asking Siri to cue up a particular track.

CarPlay will be offered in Ferrari, Mercedes-Benz and Volvo vehicles this year, while BMW, Ford, General Motors, Honda, Hyundai, Jaguar Land Rover, Kia, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Peugeot Citroën, Subaru, Suzuki and Toyota will also add the system to their cars "down the road", as Apple punningly put it.

The launch sees Apple joining rivals Nokia and Google in looking to take their software into vehicles.

Nokia's Here navigation unit last year released the Here Connected Driving platform for car makers, became Toyota's local search provider of choice and signed a deal with Mercedes-Benz that will see the pair work on self-driving cars together. Google meanwhile has been working on 'autonomous vehicles' for some time.

Topics: Apple, Mobility, EU

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  • Adaptable UI's should be extended with the iPhone

    Carplay is a great idea, and the concept really should be extended in my opinion - can you imagine having "Workplay" (if there could be such a thing) where using Airplay your phone became a terminal, to be used with a bluetooth keyboard and either the phone screen as a trackpad or a magic trackpad via bluetooth, giving an iPad-esque view, but with a mouse cursor? "HomePlay" where it acts just like an Apple TV style device from your pocket, and a simpler Chromecast style device instead of a set top box? I really think it won't be long before we only need one computer, either a mobile or a wearable, and as we approach different wireless-enabled display devices, the computers UI is sent to it and we can use it to perform the required tasks!
  • Unless this system disables the display on the dash.....

    ...and relies TOTALLY on audio cues, it's a disaster waiting to happen.
    You may think you can multitask and look at a display on the dash no problem. You may think that just a one second glance couldn't possibly be a major distraction. You're wrong. And if you've been using a multi-function dash display and haven't had a close call, you're lucky.
    • I'll take it...

      over the countless jack arses I see on my daily rush hour commute who have their heads and thumbs buried in their phones, texting away.

      I'm not talking at stop lights either, I'm talking a packed 8 lane parkway, doing 40-60 MPH.

      I'd rather have at least some of that voice controlled and in dash than in a 4-5" screen that's consuming at least one of their hands and 90% of their visual attention.
  • Does it require a 3g connection?

    Does it require a 3g connection?

    If yes then meh!.
  • My android phone already does all that...

    Why is this news? Aside from having apple maps on the dash, I don't see any thing new here and I'm not really sure that the apple maps part is a real selling point.
  • Android

    Car manufacturers -- Android outsells IOS / Apple. And those of us not i-Phoned do not like paying for worthess junk in our cars specific to the Apple fan club.
    • Easy solution

      Don't buy the iOS cars and buy the ones targeted to the Android fan club. It wouldn't surprise me to see a Korean auto company tied up with Samsung on this.
    • Point taken...

      ...But iPhone users would LOVE to have an Android app? Two options would solve this problem, but will of course ruin a perfectly good flame war on ZDNet.
    • Android?

      The Android user population is documented as spending as little as possible. Would you expect them to buy a Volvo or Mercedes?
      • That's an old meme

        Sure, Android devices aren't being sold as the luxury items that iOS devices are. So you'd expect them to sell less. But the Play Store is already bringing in over half as much as the iTunes store. So it's not as if Android users aren't buying anything. Couple that with the Play Store not even launched in a number of major countries already well served by Apple, and it's clear to see that, even if Apple's bringing in more income right now, Android will eventually surpass Apple, just based on the number of users.
      • galaxy note 3 is not a cheaper option and its selling very well.

        So did the htc1 the nexus 4 and 5, the G2 and the S3, s4 and now the S5... Cheap is only in emerging markets.
    • Read the article

      They are putting iOS in HIGH END cars. You are safe. Though in all seriousness I just do not get the whole iOS vs Android crap anyhow - who gives a flying f**k who uses what as long as they are happy with their purchase? Yeah I'm biased as I've used both and I find the flaws and issues with iOS easier to deal with that the flaws and issues with Android. YMMV.

      Okay all fanboi attacks and religious dogma aside yes there should be way to include this iOS based system, an Android based system (IS there one?), and a WP based system (Sync for Ford tweaked) as stock and let the driver decide which system to use based on his or her handset - if I use my iPhone then I want to have the iOS version, if my wife (hypothetically) uses an Android phone (She also has an iPhone BTW) then she should be able to sync her Android device.
      • Yeah, but then...

        what if I purchase the car one way, and then decide to switch from one mobile OS to another (or have a switch foisted upon me by my company)?

        I'm stuck with a system in my car that I can no longer use!

        The system in the car should be generic, and leverage WHATEVER mobile OS it is connected to. EITHER that, or don't tie it to the phone/device at all. Build the entire system into the car so it exists as it's own ecosystem. I wouldn't care much if my car had iOS and my phone had Android, if they operated independently.

        But don't lock me into a 10 year investment (my car) based solely on the operating system of what is, at best anymore, a 1 year investment (the phone).
        • Plus...

          You're assuming that every driver in the family uses the same phone, and drives only one car. My wife has an iPhone, I have my Android, and my daughter actually has a Windows Phone. And we switch vehicles A LOT.

          Why should any of us be shorted on functionality just because we're not driving a particular one of our cars.
        • Exactly

          And look at most of today's in-car systems... they hook to your smartphone over Bluetooth, and they're pretty non-denominational otherwise. If your device doesn't work as well as another, it's probably your device's Bluetooth implementation.

          I wouldn't have a problem with a car system that could fire up an Android interface for Android users and an iOS interface for iOS users, but even that's asking for trouble... what if Windows Phone is a popular option in five years? Smartphones are sold with a 2-3 year lifetime mentality; cars last past ten years. You can't have software in the car that's useless in a few years.

          The best approach is to build these systems on open standards. Smartphones are very capable these days, and won't get less so during the lifetime of your car. The smartphone should require an app or apps that adapt it to the standards put in place in vehicles. Not the other way around.
      • Except they're not putting iOS in cars

        What everyone seems to have missed here is that CarPlay is pretty much just an app running on top of BlackBerry's QNX OS. Yup, the same OS that runs BB10 phones:

        "The secret to Apple's new CarPlay? BlackBerry"
    • You put the access into the radios

      for the mobile operating systems, and everyone will complain about the fact that they're paying for functionality they won't use.

      Personally, I wouldn't want to buy this sort of thing unless it did support iOS and Android, and maybe Windows Phone and Blackberry.
    • Few people use the extended capabilities of Android feature phones

      The reason that car makers target iOS compatibility is that iPhone users tend to use the device to the maximum of its capabilities - not so Android feature phones. That is why iPhones still make up most mobile web traffic, and still dominate paid app purchases.
  • IPhone 5S and Camry 2014

    I have an in-dash display without a navigation system. Also have integrated Bluetooth. After I linked the Phone with the Camry, all I need to do is get any audio source (before starting the car!) and get directions on apple maps. Once this is all going I can listen to any sound source from the iPhone and have the Apple Maps app speak the directions to me. I only do this on medium to long trips when my wife can make any changes to the phone.
    Haven't tried to see if Siri is any use. Answering the phone is easy as there is a built in answer/hangup button in the Camry steering column. I guess having the maps display on the screen would be great, but my current system wouldn't support it.
    • Good, but still lacking

      The problem there is that, when you link your phone to your car as a sound source, it's the only sound source. In my current car, I have an old-timey (eg, before iOS or Android) GPS that's wired in to the sound system -- it's aftermarket, but it's integrated like a built-in (Pioneer). So I can listen to audio from the car's sound sources, and the GPS only speaks when it's needed. In the usual smartphone configuration, I'm either using the smartphone as both music and GPS source, or listening to the car's audio with the GPS coming out of the phone speaker. Neither is the right thing.

      A more advanced system would have the car audio automatically duck when the phone has something to say, muting the phone input at other times. With a smart enough car system, you can make that an app. That's probably the kind of thing they're looking at, a better system of communications between car and phone. But make it proprietary is the wrong way.