Over the past few years, a standard feature has been added to move vehicles - support for Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. These platforms allow you to connect your phone to the car and use a collection of apps on the vehicle's infotainment system. Both experiences are powered by the phone, meaning that the car manufacturers don't have control over the experience. Toyota fought the trend for years, and now GM seems to be going back in time, dropping support for both CarPlay and Android Auto in upcoming vehicles.
What are CarPlay and Android Auto?
CarPlay and Android Auto are two distinct platforms that allow users to connect their phones to the car's infotainment system. Both platforms offer a selection of apps designed for in-vehicle use, including navigation, music streaming, and messaging services. CarPlay is Apple's platform and works with iPhones while Android Auto supports devices running Google's Android operating system.
Once connected, the phone can be used to control certain functions of the car, such as climate control and media playback. The platforms offer a simplified interface optimized for use in cars, making it easier to access and use apps while driving. They also allow drivers to keep their hands on the wheel by allowing voice commands to control certain functions. Additionally, Android Auto supports wireless connections, eliminating the need for physical cords.
GM's EV dreams
This week, GM confirmed that they are working with Google to produce a custom infotainment system for their electric vehicles. This will bypass both CarPlay and Android Auto in favor of the custom system. This infotainment system seems to be targeted at competing directly with Tesla, whose vehicle OS is also custom and offers a set of unique features. However, by bypassing industry standards, certain capabilities are lost.
For example, you are locked into the apps and platforms that are written for the car. In the case of GM's upcoming system, everything seems to be focused on Google. It will have Google Maps built-in, as well as other services, like Google Assistant and even Google BARD, the company's AI-powered plagiarism engine. For some people, this will be enough capability, but it takes away a lot of choices.
For standard driving, for example, I prefer to use Waze because of its more accurate traffic information, plus the community-based data aspect. It's a lot easier to get around accidents using Waze than it is Google Maps, Apple Maps, or HERE WeGo. But, there are other GPS systems that can be important. For example, if you drive for Uber, a CarPlay integration is supposed to be launching soon, allowing you to use the larger screen of your vehicle to navigate for work rather than the smaller screen of your phone. Of course, this is a niche problem, but an important one to consider when purchasing a vehicle.
For most users, the infotainment system is unlikely to be a deciding factor for their vehicle purchase. But, for some, the lack of CarPlay and Amdroid Auto support could potentially drive people away from the brand. Another potential issue comes from the fact that the company has said that subscriptions will be a big part of their future, and that could come in to play here. GM could charge extra for use of these features, making it an even less attractive purchase. We'll have to wait and see exactly what GM has planned for their custom infotainment system.