Looking For, And Finding Apple CarPlay At The LA Auto Show

carplay icon Apple Unveils CarPlay As iOS In The Car Becomes OfficialApple announced CarPlay at WWDC 2013, and gave official details in March of this year. Even with the lead time, there still haven’t been many updates since, and there’s yet to actually be a car on the road with CarPlay installed by the manufacturer. You can get an after market CarPlay compatible systems from Pioneer, and Alpine. Of the 29 auto partners Apple officially announced, not one of them has a CarPlay compatible vehicle on lots. With the LA Auto Show in town, it was a good time to find out if there’s any update from these manufacturers on Apple CarPlay.
Our mission was simple, go to every auto manufacturer listed on Apple’s website that was also at the LA Auto Show, and ask for someone with knowledge of Apple CarPlay. We talked to Audi, BMW, Chevy, Chrysler (Dodge, Fiat, and Jeep), Ford, Honda, Hyundai, Jaguar/LandRover, Kia, Mazda, Mercedes Benz, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Subarea, Toyota, and Volvo. Of all these companies, the response was almost identical, “We’re working with Apple, but we don’t have timing, or products to announce”. That’s pretty disheartening after a few, but finally we stumbled upon an oasis at the show. Hyundai had a demo of AppleCarPlay on the 2015 Sonata with an Apple representative giving the demo.

We have seen the feature set laid out by Apple, but we got to actually see it up, and running in a car. The system begins by plugging in your iPhone 5, and above, and then the car recognizes the accessory to present an option to enable CarPlay. You can only plug in your device, as it doesn’t work over Bluetooth because it tries to establish a native connection that requires a lot of data transfer. That is especially apparent when pinching to zoom in Maps with quality responsiveness. Once the car recognizes CarPlay, and you tap the CarPlay button, you’re given the interface that Apple has shown off before. You have big bright icons for Phone, Music, Maps, and Messages. CarPlay also can check to see if you have compatible third party apps like Podcasts, Spotify, iHeartRadio, CBS Radio, Beats, Sticher, Rdio, Overcast, and At Bat. Any compatible app shows up on the in-car screen, and works the same way with interfaces designed to be touched in the car.
Apple is focusing on audio apps, and said that third party makers of audio apps can reach out to us to be included in CarPlay. Only audio apps are supported at this moment, as that’s what Apple believes fits in the car, but it will be interesting to see if other categories come on board, namely navigation. Another key app in CarPlay is the auto manufacturer app, and in the case of our demo, the Hyundai app takes you back to Hyundai’s in-car system. When you activate CarPlay, it mutes what was currently playing, but when you go back to the car system, what you were playing in CarPlay keeps playing. The majority of CarPlay is designed around Siri for voice activated calls, messages, and directions that use the in car microphone. CarPlay does piggy back off the data of your device, though will potentially work with 4G LTE hotspots that are coming to cars in the next model year.

Here’s Apple CarPlay in the 2015 Hyundai Sonata in action:

apple_carplay_laautoshow14_4In addition to Hyundai, Volvo also announced that CarPlay will be on the 2015 XC90. Volvo has an interesting take on this, instead of having CarPlay take over the whole in car screen, it’s simply part of the system. The XC90 has a 9” portrait screen that has four tabs filling the screen allowing you to access different parts of the car, while letting the other features still be present. CarPlay will just be one of the tabs, so you can still access climate control, AM/FM bands, and car settings, while being able to hop over to CarPlay at any time.

Mercedes also was able to announce the Apple CarPlay coming to the 2015 S-Class , S-Coupe, and C-Class. Mercedes does something a little different as well, as they don’t think cars should have touch screens, as they’re too much of a distraction from driving. Instead, they have touch sensitive knobs in the center console to fully interact with CarPlay in a relatively unique manner.

The LA Auto Show had a lot going on, but not much when it comes to Apple CarPlay. It appears though that 2015 will be the first model year to have it, and the major car companies are on board to get it installed. It’s worth noting that all manufacturers essentially confirmed that this will be coming to new model years only, and will not be a software upgrade to older vehicles, even the 2014 model year.


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6 Comments on "Looking For, And Finding Apple CarPlay At The LA Auto Show"

  1. Howie B. November 22, 2014 at 7:24 AM -

    CarPlay looks very impressive. I have been holding off new car purchase for CarPlay. Any word when other manufacturers will ship cars with CarPlay? Any word if “current” 2014 and 2015 cars on the lot will be software upgradeable to CarPlay? I would be happy to buy a car today, if I know it would be upgradeable to CarPlay within a few months.

    • mactds November 22, 2014 at 9:41 AM -

      We can confirm that it won’t be a software upgrade to existing cars, even 2014 model year. If CarPlay isn’t compatible when you drive it off the lot, it will be tough unless the model is confirmed like the 2015 Hyundai Sonata, Volvo XC90, or Mercedes S/Class/C-Class.

      Hope that clears things up. We’re interested too.

      • Howie B. November 22, 2014 at 11:10 AM -

        How about 2015 cars, like Acura TLX, LEXUS or Infiniti?

        • mactds November 23, 2014 at 9:57 AM -

          Only the three we mentioned are supported. Hyundai Sonata, Volvo XC90, and Mercedes S & C-Class.

          Acura & Lexus confirmed they don’t even have plans for CarPlay at the moment, while Infiniti didn’t have official timing, or release on any models.

          • Howie B. November 23, 2014 at 10:40 AM -

            Thanks for teh info. Any word from BMW or Audi if they will add CarPlay to new cars, or software update to “current” cars on the lot?

          • mactds November 23, 2014 at 12:43 PM -

            It’s disappointing we know, but as we said in the article, no cars will get a software update on the lot.

            We also mentioned:

            “We talked to Audi, BMW, Chevy, Chrysler (Dodge, Fiat, and Jeep), Ford, Honda, Hyundai, Jaguar/LandRover, Kia, Mazda, Mercedes Benz, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Subarea, Toyota, and Volvo. Of all these companies, the response was almost identical, “We’re working with Apple, but we don’t have timing, or products to announce”.

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