Apple on Monday announced CarPlay, its rebadged "iOS in the Car," which it originally announced last year. It's been two years since we started hearing about iPhone integration in cars. I have to admit that I'm starting to wonder if it'll ever happen, and I don't think it's going to be a huge factor for me when it comes time to buy my next car. How about you?
CarPlay formally makes its introduction at the Geneva Motor Show later this week, in Geneva, Switzerland. CarPlay will enable you to access features of your iPhone from directly within the on-screen interface in your car's dashboard. This will ostensibly let you get directions, make calls, play music and more without having to take your eyes off the road - or at least without having to take your eyes as far off the road as you might if you're fumbling with your phone.
Car makers, of course, hope to entice you into new models by offering the new CarPlay feature. BMW, Ford, GM, Honda, Hyundai, Jaguar, Kia, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Peugeot, Subaru, Suzuki and Toyota have all pledged support for CarPlay.
Siri control is a key feature, because that emphasizes the eyes-on-the-road aspect of CarPlay. You can use voice commands to use Maps, play music, send messages and more. Some third party apps like Spotify will be supported, too.
CarPlay will be dependent on a forthcoming iOS 7 update and will be available in new automobile models shipping in 2014.
I have to admit that I'm left a bit cold by this announcement. Apple first announced iOS in the Car last year, and Apple announced Siri Eyes Free a year before.
Part of my ambivalence is seeing Apple repeatedly promise this technology but seeing auto makers fail to deliver. I've gotten a bit gunshy and wonder if anyone's really up to the task, or willing to stick with it.
Also, at the risk of sounding like an old fart, I firmly believe that drivers should be focused on one thing - driving, not messing around with smartphones. Sure, the implicit promise of CarPlay is that you're going to be less distracted than you would by handling your iPhone, but distractions are distractions.
We'll see how far and how wide CarPlay is adopted by car makers. Based on the companies that are on board, it's clear that Apple's going for as wide a swath as possible, from affordable vehicles to luxury automobiles. That's important, because people from all walks of life use iPhones.
But CarPlay isn't on my list of must-have features for my next car. I'm still more concerned with fuel economy, safety, reliability and price. If the car maker puts CarPlay in for good measure, all the better, but it's going to be icing on the cake, and two equal cars from different makers are really going to have to be on a level playing field for me to have CarPlay the deciding factor between the two.
How about you? Will CarPlay be a make or break deal for you? Are you as tired of waiting for this as I am? Let me know what you think in the comments.