Tuesday, April 4, 2023

General Motors to Phase Out CarPlay

Hartley Charlton (Hacker News):

General Motors (GM) will phase out Apple CarPlay and Android Auto in its vehicles starting this year, shifting to a built-in infotainment system co-developed with Google (via Reuters).

GM owns Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet, and GMC in the United States. It will stop offering Apple CarPlay and Android Auto starting with the 2024 Chevrolet Blazer, which goes on sale this summer. The company plans to continue offering Apple CarPlay and Android Auto in its combustion models, which are expected to be phased out by 2035 in favor of electric vehicles.

John Gruber:

I’m wondering if this bizarre decision has something to do with tracking users in a way that CarPlay defends against.

Or perhaps Google is paying them?

Stephen Hackett:

I don’t plan on ever purchasing a car without CarPlay again. I suspect a lot of folks feel the same way.

Michael Yacavone:

I saw this news and thought GM had done an April Fools, but no, they are just fools. We got a Bolt EUV in December, and CarPlay was a requirement, didn’t look at any cars without it.

It’s not just about purchasing, though. Rental companies have lots of GM vehicles, and you can’t choose what you’re going to get. Currently, it’s pretty safe to assume that a rental will support CarPlay. In the future, you might have to bring a mount for using your phone directly.


Update (2023-04-07): Jason Snell:

I ranted about this topic for a while on this week’s Upgrade and Patrick George did an excellent job of summarizing this move at The Verge[…] I have a lot of strong feelings about this, because it’s a clear case of a corporation prioritizing its own business and technical interests over the needs of its users. While GM’s statements on the matter constantly emphasize that this is an improvement or evolution of the in-car experience, it’s all spin and lies.


Even if you happen to use a supported service or app, you have to rely on syncing between devices. Now you’ve got to hope that whatever connectivity the car offers will be able to keep your music playlists and the current playing location of your podcast or audiobooks synced and up to date. Cloud syncing is tricky—do I really trust General Motors to keep all my stuff in line?


Tangentially, two EV companies have already gone down this path: Tesla and Rivian. And yes, both of them are just as arrogant as GM in preferring their own stock software to the smartphones in everyone’s pockets. At least GM will have access to Android apps—Tesla finally added support for Apple Music earlier this year! (It took just eight years!) A guy in Poland has spent countless hours trying to hack CarPlay into the Tesla web browser.

See also: TidBITS.

Update (2023-04-22): Jamie L. LaReau and Phoebe Wall Howard (via Hacker News):

Harsh reaction to GM’s decision last month echoed across social media immediately with some people saying they will not buy a vehicle that doesn’t offer CarPlay or Android Auto, prompting some car shopping experts to predict that GM may lose customers.


Mossberg introduced the article by saying, “I think this is a huge blunder, which puts greed over consumer choice. I wouldn’t buy a car without Car Play and I bet millions of others feel the same.”

Some say GM wants to create new revenue streams by selling subscriptions to certain features on the GM-built infotainment systems, plus gather data on how consumers use their EVs.

John Gruber:

One thought I had regarding this decision by GM is that it’s a bit like selling “smart” TV sets that don’t support HDMI input. You get the TV maker’s interface for using apps, games, and streaming services, with no choice to plug in a third-party device like an Apple TV, Chromecast stick, or Roku. I don’t know of any TV sets like that, but HomePods are sort of like that as speakers. HomePods have no traditional line-in for audio — whatever sound comes out of your HomePods, it comes through Apple’s own software stack. GM is more like a traditional speaker company. It’d be really weird if, say, Bose sold a set of smart speakers that didn’t support line-in, because unlike Apple, Bose isn’t a leading software platform company.

Tesla is seemingly thriving while going its own way software-wise. Rivian is following Tesla’s lead, and can’t manufacture their vehicles fast enough to keep up with demand. But both of those companies have roots in Silicon Valley, not Detroit. Both Tesla and Rivian seem more like Apple than they do General Motors.

Update (2023-05-01): John Gruber:

It doesn’t seem to be about being able to provide a better experience than CarPlay, but instead about collecting surveillance data that Apple’s privacy rules don’t allow. Sozzi just breezes past this notion of using surveillance data to sell car insurance, but a car that reports such data to insurance companies seems like a privacy disaster.

Update (2023-05-10): General Motors (via Hacker News):

General Motors Co. announced today that Mike Abbott, former vice president of Engineering for Apple’s Cloud Services division, will join GM as executive vice president, Software, effective May 22, 2023. He will report to GM Chair and CEO Mary Barra.

Update (2023-05-18): John Gruber:

But I don’t look at this hire and think that GM is any more likely to come up with a CarPlay-quality interface for its own platform. Some back-of-the-envelope math on Barra’s services revenue goals for GM makes it sound to me like Mike Abbott is being tasked with designing an in-dash slot machine.


What services could they offer that new car buyers would pay north of $50/month for? Maps and navigation? Everyone has that on their phones already. Music and podcasts? Everyone has that on their phones already. Crash detection? By 2030 everyone will have that on their phones already (or at least they will if they have iPhones, but I bet that will soon become a standard feature on Android phones too). GM wants to sell “behavior based insurance” (translation: tracking/surveillance), but according to Reuters, their goal for insurance is just $6 billion/year by 2030. I find it hard to see where the rest of the money will come from.


One idea that occurred to me is the equivalent of Apple’s services revenue dark matter: payments from Google for default placement as Safari’s search engine.

Update (2023-12-19): Juli Clover:

According to Tim Babbitt, GM’s head of product for infotainment, GM has driver safety in mind. CarPlay and Android Auto can have issues like bad connections, slow response times, compatibility issues, and connectivity problems, leading drivers to be distracted from the road with smartphone troubleshooting.

Lawrence Hodge (via Hacker News):

Essentially, the thinking is that if a car’s in-built infotainment system is good enough, drivers will be less likely to use their phone for what they’re trying to do while they’re behind the wheel, — though Babbitt admits that GM hasn’t exactly tested this in a controlled setting to see whether or not it’s true.

John Gruber:

In his imagined scenario, people check their phones while driving when the CarPlay connection flakes out. But if the car doesn’t support CarPlay, people will use their phones for every single thing that’s on their phones but not in GM’s built-in system. “If drivers were to do everything through the vehicle’s built-in systems” is as much a fantasy as, say, “If drivers always obeyed all posted speed limits.” It’s not going to happen. There is no plausible scenario where the drivers of future GM vehicles without CarPlay support check their iPhones less frequently than they do in vehicles that support CarPlay.

4 Comments RSS · Twitter · Mastodon

GM may see the light when rental companies demand CarPlay or stop buying GM.

CarPlay has become table stakes for a rental car. With CarPlay, all your data remains on your phone, unlike linking the phone to the head unit via Bluetooth. It also provides up-to-date navigation at no extra cost, using a familiar interface. That's massively valuable when you're driving a strange car in a strange city.

The next time I travel, my choice of rental-car company will be strongly influenced by whether or not the company has a lot of GM vehicles in their fleet. If it's likely I'll get a GM car without CarPlay, that rental-car company won't be on my list. I don't think I'll be alone. If so, eventually GM is gonna take a hit in fleet sales.

It feels that car makers are oblivious how people use their cars.
For example vast majority of people have some kind of 3rd party phone mount or even two, yet virtually no cars have it as part of the design, even the models that are sold without technology packages. It's no surprise they do not see the value of CarPlay for the users.

Why won't company allow other companies to harvest my data? Booboo!

Weird. CarPlay is a must have for me. Not in the market for a car, but if I were to be, no CarPlay will be a dealbreaker

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