Who is Pushing Back Against Apple’s CarPlay and Android Auto?

When it comes to integrating the smartphone into onboard electronics, I must say that the automakers are getting it right.  Not only do they recognize that the quickest way to satisfy customers is to find safer ways to plug in and use their phones; automakers are also sidestepping the platform wars that Apple and Android would like them to get into.

“One car, all phones” seems to be the mantra. Unless you’re a Blackberry or Windows Phone owner.  C’est la vie.

The upside for manufacturers is that they can stop developing the proprietary tech that:

  1. Is outdated as soon as you drive off the lot.
  2. Costs $$$ to update navigation maps.
  3. Is difficult to use.
  4. You’re stuck with until you return the lease or trade it in.

 

In my opinion, give me a big screen and a high-end audio system to plug my 6 Plus into, and get out of my way….

There’s a really good story on this topic at New York Times.com, called “Google and Apple Fight for the Car Dashboard”.  They do a good job at getting to the heart of the problem and solution.  They also point out the identity of a laggard, which may surprise you.

“…But nowhere is that obsession playing out more immediately than in the battle to develop the next generation of cars’ dashboard systems. In the coming weeks and months, dealerships around the country will begin selling vehicles capable of running Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, or both.

 

The systems go far beyond currently available Bluetooth pairing for playing music or making a hands-free call, and allow for Google’s or Apple’s operating system to essentially take over the center screen and certain buttons within the car.

 

“Consumers have spoken,” said John Maddox, assistant director of the University of Michigan’s Mobility Transformation Center. “They expect to have coordination between their phone and their vehicle….”

 

Damn skippy.  For all of our adult lives, we’ve had to suffer with what the automakers have given us, or paid dearly for their top of the line (which wasn’t that good) or we had to shell out for aftermarket (which could be splendid AND expensive).

The car companies have learned the hard way that customers are ready to implement better technology.  No matter where it came from.  It started with GPS.  Drivers trusted Garmin and TomTom to get them there.  They were leery of manufacturer systems, and with good reason.  Chevy knows how to build a car.  Not so much a navigation system.

So”up” went the GPS windshield mounts, and people puttered away finding the right location.

When GPS started moving to the smartphone, the car companies were in a slightly better position.  Instead of behind the curve, they were just behind its apex.  Automakers nav systems were better, but like Garmin and TomTom, they saw map updates as a side business.  Unfortunately no one wanted to buy them.  At all.

It’s safe to say that Google Maps decimated that model.

So “up” went the smartphone windshield mounts, and people puttered away with better AND free navigation–plus, if they had the right jack, they could free themselves from ClearChannel (now iHeart Radio) and listen to their own music libraries as well.

Which killed the carmaker’s CD player.

When Apple and Android started working on their in-car systems, there were stories of pushback.  Looking back, they were probably more positioning themselves than anything else.  It didn’t take long for them to get on board.

So who is the car company playing coy?  Toyota. Chrysler as well–but that is less a surprise.

John Hanson, the national manager of Toyota’s advanced technology communications, said while the company talked frequently with both Google and Apple, it currently had no plans to adopt Android Auto or CarPlay in the United States.

 

“We may all eventually wind up there, but right now we prefer to use our in-house proprietary platforms for those kinds of functions,” Mr. Hanson said.

 

In a nutshell, that’s crazy talk.  Why?  Lets hear it from some Toyota owners….

My new 2015 Highlander Limited claims to have Advanced Voice Recognition software.  When I ask it for “directions to 21 Nepean Crescent, Ottawa, Ontario” it usually replies “There are no fire halls in this part of California” or something similar.  I can get it to tune to a particular radio station, but accepting navigation requests seems outside of its capability.  I have performed the Calibration routine five or six times. Service Department claims that system is operating as designed.
Didn’t see a thread on this problem in a search.  

 

Does anyone else have this problem? Any advice on how to speak to this unit so that it understands navigation requests would be helpful.

 

This is from a Toyota owner’s thread titled “My Advanced Voice Recognition Seems to Have a Hearing Problem“.   Here’s another one, titled “Voice Recognition for Navigation Awful”:

Yes that’s what I meant to say.
Just don’t know why they created this new model halfway thru the year.

 

There’s lots more at this search.  Granted, forums are the province of the unhappy.  But people go there to find solutions, and a forum is a credible place to find shared suffering and help.  Maybe Toyota is the one that thinks they can find a magic bullet.  Maybe they’re just negotiating for a better deal from Google and Apple.

In the meantime, please make sure to check the video above.  It’s Apple’s CarPlay at work in the new Hyundai Sonata.

 

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Sebastian James

sebastian@sebastianwjames.me

Accept no substitutes

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