1 July-2014, Forbes: Audi fans holding out for Apple CarPlay are in for a wait.
The first Audi models to get the new technology – which promises to improve iPhone integration with the car – won’t come to North America until early 2016.
Though the German automaker plans to start rolling out CarPlay next year, it will be available only on European models at first.
The technology is designed to reduce distractions behind the wheel. It essentially eliminates any need for someone to pick up an iPhone in their hand while driving, because the main functions can be operated through the car’s own infotainment system.
Drivers will be able to make phone calls, play music, display maps and receive messages, whether by using the car’s touchpad, buttons and dials or by giving voice commands.
Though, in many cases, cars already enable these tasks through their infotainment systems, Apple CarPlay is expected to be more intuitive and easier to use.
A short demonstration at the New York auto show did make the system seem simple to operate. The demo had been on a 2015 Volvo XC90 that is set to debut later this year.
Android users need not fret either. Audi also intends to offer Google’s Android Auto starting with some 2015 models.
The two competing smartphone offerings are similar. Like CarPlay, Android Auto allows the driver to use voice commands to make phone calls, reply to texts, and access maps, music and apps.
Audi had been one of the first car manufacturers on board with Android Auto, but had been quiet about CarPlay until now.
Audi said CarPlay would be on all-new models arriving in U.S. showrooms by 2016. It did not specify any model names.
It said drivers will be able to switch between the smartphone functions and the usual infotainment features as needed.
Apple first announced plans for “iOS in the Car” at its Worldwide Developers Conference in 2013, as we wrote about here.
But it rebranded the system as CarPlay earlier this year. CarPlay works with the iPhone 5 and any later versions.
So far 29 automakers are on board to offer CarPlay. Five of them – Ferrari, Honda, Hyundai, Mercedes-Benz and Volvo – are expected to introduce the feature on models coming out later this year.
Google demonstrated its Android Auto system for the first time at its I/O developer conference in San Francisco last week.
Audi was a founding member of Google’s Open Automotive Alliance, a coalition of automakers and tech companies working on Android smartphone integration in vehicles.
Automakers lag far behind electronics manufacturers in terms of the technology they offer, partly because product cycles for vehicles are much longer than for consumer electronics. Systems like CarPlay and Android Auto promise to curtail this lag, but as is evident from Audi’s plan to roll out CarPlay, it could prove to be a slow process of improvement, tied as it is to bringing all-new vehicles to market.