The brand new CarPlay presented at WWDC was a surprise. If the rumor had already considered the hypothesis of a system better integrated into the cars, we did not expect a complete system which takes over that of the car and manages all the screens. What Apple showed off last week looks a lot more like a competitor to Android Automotive than the current implementation of CarPlay. And unsurprisingly, car manufacturers are very wary of it.
CarPlay: will car manufacturers cede control of their screens to Apple?
This novelty should not appear on a dashboard before the end of 2023 at best and probably not before 2024. If Apple presented it so far upstream, it may be precisely to force the hand of manufacturers, suggests Mark Gurman in his last Sunday publication. And above all, it could be the first concrete step that prefigures the release of an electric car designed in Cupertino.
The journalist from Bloomberg reminds that car manufacturers have no interest in ceding control of their dashboard to a company like Apple which is not one to share. Google, on the contrary, leaves a good margin of maneuver to its partners with Android Automotive. As screens get bigger and more important in cars, the interface is becoming one of the most distinctive elements of a vehicle. Even if manufacturers have historically struggled to offer ergonomic and pleasant interfaces, they are gradually becoming aware of the issue and are taking significant steps to improve the ergonomics of their infotainment systems.
Faced with a Volvo signing with Epic Games to improve its interfaces, a Mercedez-Benz or a Volkswagen investing to create their own operating system based on the Tesla model, Apple’s proposal is dangerous. Between the extremely neat interface as the company knows how to offer them and the promises of customization addressed to users and not to manufacturers, this new CarPlay has something to appeal to Apple customers. Proof of this is that this new generation CarPlay is one of the WWDC announcements that got you the most excited, according to our survey. And if it becomes a condition for buying a new car, as the current version of software often is, manufacturers will have no choice but to hand over control of their dashboard to Apple.
Apple’s strategy is all the more malignant as the new CarPlay could systematically be a winner for Tim Cook’s company. Since it depends on an iPhone, it reinforces the attractiveness of the ecosystem and “locks” customers a little more into the range struck by an apple. Additional bonus, suggests Mark Gurman, this new CarPlay will be linked to a specific version of iOS and will force part of the iPhone fleet to a hardware update to benefit from it. But the interest of this new CarPlay could be even greater…
If successful, the new CarPlay could also serve as a gateway to an Apple-designed vehicle. The company could use feedback from its users and car manufacturers to improve the software ahead of the release of its own car. In the meantime, the journalist suggests that a “carOS” could emerge on the model of Android Automotive OS, with installation on the car’s on-board computer and above all operation without an associated iPhone. Apple could charge each manufacturer for specific hardware as well as for the software license, in addition to income related to the house services put forward, through Plans for example.
Regarding the car designed by Apple, Mark Gurman understands that it is still planned and that the project is moving forward with ongoing research into suppliers and production. Kevin Lynch, head of the Titan project since last summer, would also have inflated the team with people who came with him from the group dedicated to the Apple Watch and he would have taken the opportunity to review the general organization. What, apparently, to catch up a little behind and the idea of presenting a current vehicle 2025 would remain relevant, even if it means abandoning autonomous driving at first.
Apple could then follow a strategy similar to that of Tesla, with a car that you must mainly drive yourself at the start and with driving assistance that could be updated to gradually move towards autonomous driving. A car that would be designed entirely around an even more advanced version of CarPlay, with that intended for other car manufacturers which would then serve as a full-scale advertisement for the Apple Car.