Apple has big ambitions for your car. The company recently unveiled the latest version of its in-vehicle software called Apple CarPlay. This allows you to connect your phone to your car so you can hear directions on the stereo and see your maps and music on the screen. The new version allows Apple’s operating system to take over your entire dashboard, including the gas gauge and speedometer. Drivers can do things like buy gas directly from the car screen instead of sticking or tapping a credit card in the pump.
Marketplace’s Matt Levin explains why this is a big problem for Apple and automakers.
In its auto industry, Apple is tired of confining itself to that infotainment screen above where the cigarette lighter thing used to go. It wants to tell you how much gas you have, how fast you are going and basically be the control system for your entire car.
“Automotive is a huge industry for Apple because it’s just another extension of their ecosystem,” said Dan Ives, who follows Apple for Wedbush Securities. “Their goal is to become more and more entrenched in consumers’ lives.”
And Apple is pretty good at sleek, intuitive software design. But car manufacturers?
“I’ll be honest. Some are very good at software implementation, others are very bad at software implementation,” said Thomas Hundal, journalist at The Autopian.
If you’ve ever felt like you need a Ph.D. to understand your car dashboard, you know what it is talking about. But Hundal fears a future when the drive to pick up your kid from soccer practice is sponsored by, say, Dick’s Sporting Goods.
“Everyone wants to make money with these digital dashboards. Will you soon see advertisements in your vehicle? Imagine how much that would suck,” he said.
To be clear, Hundal is talking about digital dashboards in general, not Apple’s version. Apple is known to make more money from hardware than advertising, but driver data is incredibly valuable.
Automakers don’t want to transfer that data to Silicon Valley, says Carla Bailo of the Center for Automotive Research.
She said that driving and usage behaviors, such as the type of music you play in the car, can make money. The auto companies would rather be the ones generating revenue, and they should agree to allow Apple into their systems.
But Bailo said automakers may not have much of a choice. Whether it’s Apple’s iOS or Google’s Android, consumers tend to prefer having their phone on their car’s screen.
“I think we’re seeing a huge trend to actually roll out Google Play and Apple CarPlay. That’s what the customer is demanding,” Bailo said. “They’re going to do what the customer wants.”
For those of us who secretly rejoice not being able to use our phones while driving, well, those days may be numbered.
Gasoline is simply the latest purchase Apple users can make through CarPlay. Drivers can already order food and pay for parking. CNBC has a story about Apple’s big car ambitions.
Speaking of which, Apple has been trying to make its own electric self-driving car, and as The Verge points out, this new version of CarPlay could be an indication of how that Apple car might work.
By the way, Bloomberg had a story about this late last year. It said that, according to sources familiar with the matter, Apple’s ideal car would have no steering wheel and no pedals.