One of the infotainment features that we always look for on new cars is Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. This smartphone connectivity feature allows for seamless integration and the use of apps on the car’s infotainment screen. These systems have been out for about four years, but many new vehicles still lack them.
Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are quickly gaining ground. Try as Apple and Google might, worming their way into every infotainment system in new cars hasn’t proven easy. While some automakers seem to embrace the technology, others still seem to keep the systems at arm’s length. Here’s a look at why Apple CarPlay and Android Auto aren’t included with every car sold.
There’s Always New Technology Coming Out
With technology’s fast pace of development, it can be hard to know what technologies are going to stick around and what ones are going to pass on quickly due to a better system. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto look great right now but what about in five years? Will it be a feature that people are interested in? It’s possible that some other system will be preferred, and it doesn’t make a whole heck of a lot of sense to pour money into these capabilities only to have to move to the next thing in a year or two.
A perfect example of this is Amazon’s Alexa. The publication notes that Amazon could already be disrupting Apple and Google’s plans of solidifying their place in the automotive industry. Ford and Toyota already have Alexa integration for some of their vehicles (Ford's integration is shown in the video above), and BMW and MINI announced Alexa integration for 2018.
Automakers Want to Control Their Infotainment Offerings
Another angle is that automakers want to develop their own offerings. Innovative technology and the automotive industry have gone hand in hand for decades, but the rise of smartphones and the proliferation of digital connectivity in all areas of our lives has led to smartphone and internet companies getting more involved in the auto industry at various levels.
Many car manufacturers are just as much tech companies as they are automakers. Ford, Tesla, General Motors, Toyota, and basically all other big automakers have teams of people to try and come up with the next big thing when it comes to innovative technology. They don’t necessarily want to cooperate with Google or Apple and use one of their systems. Most automakers would rather rely on their own proprietary infotainment system features.
Ford and Toyota teamed up and started a group called the SmartDeviceLink Consortium. Basically, the Consortium is an automaker-run app store. This would make it possible for the automakers to have their own apps as well as allow for existing apps from Apple and Google to run on the infotainment system through the automakers own system.
The consortium will also be able to exclude certain apps, meaning that the automakers get to decide what you can and can't do. Ford and Toyota aren't the only automakers in on the game either. According to The Verge, Mazda, Suzuki, Subaru, Peugeot, and Citroen have all pledged to join, too. It seems that while automakers aren't in an all-out fight with Google and Apple, they're not ready to let the companies dictate the future of infotainment.
It Costs Money to Add the Capability
Apple CarPlay and Android Auto cost the automakers money. If they didn’t, every automaker would probably have it. The fact of the matter is that it’s not free for a company to add the capability. They have to deal with Google and Apple, develop systems that are compatible with Apple and Google’s specific requirements, and then they must go through testing and certification.
The automakers make more money by offering their own, navigation systems and other features than they do when they add Apple CarPlay and Android Auto capability to their existing infotainment system. To get around this, some automakers have decided to charge extra for the capability. BMW for example currently charges a $300 fee for the services, according to Venture Beat, but will offer it free for a year and then an $80 annual subscription for Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. In the end, the automaker still wants to be in control of its own technology offerings.