Tuesday, July 9, 2024

CarPlay at WWDC24

Casper Kessels (April 2024, via Hacker News):

The first version of CarPlay has been available since 2016 and has been a major success. For car industry standards, it was adopted quickly and by almost every carmaker. But since then, the car industry has been changing while the design and functionality of CarPlay have mostly stayed the same.

With lower hardware cost and an increased focus on software, carmakers have invested more in their interiors to set themselves apart. Google jumped on this opportunity by releasing Android Automotive. Unlike Android Auto, Google’s equivalent to Apple CarPlay, Android Automotive runs natively inside the car and any carmaker is free to use it. Google monetizes it by licensing its ‘Google Automotive Services’ to carmakers. This gives carmakers access to Google’s services like Google Maps, Waze, the Play Store, and Google Assistant.


Thanks to a deep integration with the software stack of the vehicle, CarPlay 2 can control most infotainment functions. It can therefore take over the entire infotainment display, the instrument cluster, and any passenger displays. For customers, it will appear like CarPlay works exactly in the same way but underneath, a lot of custom work is necessary by the carmaker and Apple to integrate. For example, even though most of the computing power still comes from the iPhone, there will be some software engineering necessary on the carmakers’ hardware to ensure that safety-critical information like speed doesn’t disappear when the iPhone crashes.

Apple is fully dependent on the carmaker’s willingness to work with them to implement this. This is why the WWDC keynote was clearly a pitch aimed at carmakers, not consumers. But so far, on the surface, it seems like carmakers have not been eager to implement the new version.

Dave Mark (May 2024):

GM dumped CarPlay. This Bloomberg piece digs into the why and the what of it all.

Lots of great bits here, including what the “Ultifi” (GM’s CarPlay replacement) experience is like.

Spoiler: It’s not pretty.

The CarPlay vs Android Auto vs Android Automotive saga is incredibly important to Apple, and GM is on the front lines.

Malcolm Owen:

The entire situation was an attempt by GM to create its own software team to make a better dashboard experience than CarPlay. One that it could control directly, and potentially capitalize on instead of relying on Apple’s software.

Apple was a threat to become “the iOS of the vehicle,” said GM SVP of strategy and innovation Alan Wexler. “It’s a physical vehicle, but it’s an iPhone you’re driving.”

GM was fine with CarPlay offering entertainment, but balked at Apple’s intention to control more of a vehicle’s functions. Achieving that would mean Apple had more control over how GM could earn digital revenue from its customers.

I don’t want CarPlay taking over the vehicle’s functions any more than I want the vehicle blocking me from using my iPhone for maps and entertainment.

WWDC Session 10112:

Explore the design system at the heart of the next generation of CarPlay that allows each automaker to express their vehicle’s character and brand. Learn how gauges, layouts, dynamic content, and more are deeply customizable and adaptable, allowing you to express your own design philosophy and create an iconic, tailored look. This session is intended for automakers, system developers, and anyone designing a system that supports the next generation of CarPlay.

Khaos Tian:

This explains why next generation CarPlay is never going to happen 😛

No auto manufacturer is going to build their car UI twice just for iPhone…

And this shows why HI shouldn’t do car instrument cluster design 😅

Nilay Patel (Threads):

The result is an approach to CarPlay that’s much less “Apple runs your car” and much more “Apple built a design toolkit for automakers to use however they want.”


But if you want to integrate things like speedometers and climate controls, CarPlay needs to actually collect data from your car, display it in real time, and be able to control various features like HVAC directly. So, for next-gen CarPlay, Apple’s split things into what it calls “layers,” some of which run on your iPhone while others run locally on the car so they don’t break if your phone disconnects. And phone disconnects are going to be an issue because next-generation CarPlay only supports wireless connections. “The stability and performance of the wireless connection are essential,” Apple’s Tanya Kancheva says while talking about the next-gen architecture. Given that CarPlay connectivity issues are still the most common issue in new cars and wireless made it worse, that’s something Apple needs to keep an eye on.


Apple’s example here is a vision of multiple colliding interface ideas all at once: a button in CarPlay to control massage seats that can either show native CarPlay controls or simply drop you into the car’s own interface.

Joe Rosensteel (Mastodon):

The two 2024 videos are basically sales pitches and explainers for the vague 2022 announcement. A lot of extra work has happened in two years, but … will anything ever ship with what they keep teasing?


Ironically car makers are teased with a level of customization that has never appeared on an Apple product in this century, but it’s when working in conjunction with Apple designers, and you apparently have to use the San Francisco family of typefaces? Wild proposition.


Setting aside the highly polarizing topic of what should be a physical button, and what should be on a screen, there’s no reason to do all the screen work twice. Especially not if it adds to customer confusion over their vehicle controls when their phone isn’t connected to the vehicle.


In my humble opinion, Next-Gen CarPlay is dead on arrival. Too late, too complicated, and it doesn’t solve the needs of automakers or customers.

Joe Rossignol:

iOS 18 adds contact photos next to names in the Messages app, making it easier to identify conversations at a glance.


In the Settings app, you can now choose to have Silent mode on your iPhone automatically turn on or off when the device is connected to CarPlay.


Voice Control is another new accessibility feature that allows you to control CarPlay entirely with Siri voice commands through a connected iPhone.

But will it be able to display the full title of the song that’s playing?

See also: Accidental Tech Podcast.


2 Comments RSS · Twitter · Mastodon

All involved parties are going for a plattform grab. Any solution going forward will suck balls.

Thank you for choosing to capitalist dystopia.

BTW, anyone who wants Carplay experience in their car, there's 3rd party units you can plug to your windscreen. I have such a "Carpuride" for my 35 year old T3 and it works great.

The nice thing is that many apps, e.g. Google Maps, have a special view for Carplay, which shows more information than on the iPhone display. And when I get a call or a message, I can reply by voice practically "hands-free" (via Siri), thru its integrated speaker and mic.

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