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March 4, 2014updated 22 Sep 2016 11:09am

Five things you need to know about Apple’s CarPlay system

The in-car technology uses BlackBerry’s QNX operating system.

By Amy-Jo Crowley

Apple released its in-car technology called CarPlay at the Geneva International Motor Show, which it hopes will allows drivers to make calls, use Maps, listen to music and access messages hands-free.

The system replicates the iPhone’s interface on the car’s dashboard screen using the Lightning Connector, but requires Apple’s latest mobile software, the iOS 7, and an iPhone 5.

CBR tells you five things you need to know about the latest system.

1. How does it work?

The idea is that users plug their iPhone into their car, so they can make calls, request music and use maps with voice commands instead of touching the screen.

While CarPlay connects to iPhones using the Lightning Connector, BlackBerry’s QNX operating system, which it acquired back in 2010, also supports the technology.

Paul Lerouxm, public relations manager at QNX software system, said: "Many automakers and tier one automotive suppliers use our platform to implement smartphone/head-unit integration in their vehicles.

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"We have a long-standing partnership with Apple to ensure high-quality connectivity with their devices, and this partnership extends to support for Apple CarPlay."

2. Apps

The tech giant’s voice assistant technology, Siri, is the centre of the new technology, which can be accessed via a voice control button on the steering wheel. With this, users will be able to make calls, use Maps, return missed calls and listen to voicemails.

CarPlay also uses Apple Maps, which anticipates destinations based on emails and text messages.

Gartner analyst Thilo Koslowski told CBR: "There’s a certain level of intelligence in this system that tries to figure out where you’re going and make that suggestion to you, which goes a little bit into the Internet of Thing’s (IoT) ability to really understand what the user is trying to do."

CarPlay also allows drivers to access music and radio content through the car’s stereo, with Beats Radio, iHeartRadio, Stitcher and Spotify among the confirmed apps that will work with it.

"The one missing from the list is Pandora, so you can see Apple almost certainly wants to use this channel in the vehicle as a way to dictate and control the content that goes into it," said Koslowski.

"It doesn’t want to necessarily introduce competitive values and applications, and also really focus on those things that make Apple more successful."


3. Is it safe?

Greg Joswiak, Apple’s vice president of iPhone and iOS Product Marketing, in a statement said CarPlay was designed to minimise distraction while driving and keep the focus on safety.

Koslowski said: "The systems will be integrated heavily into the overall vehicle’s infrastructure, architecture and infotainment system that makes these systems much more intuitive to use based on the controls you already have in the car so I actually believe it will address and minimise certain issues that have plagued a lot these mobile devices being used in automobiles."

4. Competition

A major competitor could be Google, which unveiled the Open Automotive Alliance with Audi, General Motors, Honda and Hyundai January 2014, based on its Android operating system.

It’s just a question of which ecosystem already has a bigger market share, according to Koslowski.

"We have to assume that once Google has more vehicles enabled with Android-based applications, Google potentially has a bigger opportunity because of its dominance on the mobile side as well," he said.

"But it all depends on how consumers will value these kinds of systems looking forward and we have yet to see how this will play out."

"Both of these companies will definitely influence each other and even put more emphases on each company’s efforts in the automotive space."

CarPlay will also compete with Microsoft’s Windows Embedded Automotive and Blackberry’s QNX system, which is the market leader for in-car operating systems, according to data from market research firm IHS Automotive

5. Business model

Luxury carmakers Ferrari, Mercedes-Benz and Volvo, will be the first companies to introduce the in-car technology into their vehicles later this year.

Other car manufacturers integrating CarPlay include BMW, Ford, General Motors, Honda, Hyundai, Jaguar Land Rover, Kia, Mitsubishi Motors, Nissan, PSA Peugeot Citroën, Subaru, Suzuki and Toyota. Apple has not yet indicated when these brands will launch the vehicles.

IDC analyst John Delaney told CBR: "Getting strong relationships with the car manufacturers is going to be the important and difficult part because car manufacturers understand the strength of that position and they’re going to drive a hard bargain… They’re going to have strong control over the ecosystem and so getting strong relationships."

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