Philip Raby Porsche

Porsche Sales and Service

Apple CarPlay – would you want it on your Porsche?

Apple CarPlay – would you want it on your Porsche?
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Apple has recently announced  CarPlay, an interface that allows you to control your iPhone via your car’s entertainment system.

As will anything Apple does, it will undoubtedly be brilliant and a joy to use. At present, there are no plans for it to be offered on Porsches but, if there was, would you want it?

Such technology is fantastic when it’s new but it will date quickly. Fact forward ten years and imagine buying a car with CarPlay installed. The chances are it won’t work with your iPhone 10GS. In will, in short, be obsolete technology.

You can see this already. Jump in a PCM-equipped early 996 and you’ll be faced with a clunky sat-nav, cassette player and a slot for a full-sized SIM card. Even the sat-nav on a late 997 is looking dated. Go back further in time and you will find 964s and 993s with simple radio-cassette head units but at least they still work.

I’d much rather keep my tech on my phone which I update every year or two – the TomTom app on my iPhone is brilliant and better than that on even a new Porsche 911. In addition, I can talk to Siri while I’m driving and make hands-free calls using a simple Bluetooth link, so do I really need CarPlay built into my car?

It’s fine for phones to have built-in obselencence  but cars, no thank you.

Comments

  • CraigM says:

    Philip,

    You appreciate that CarPlay is just the interface/connectivity solution … not the apps, so whilst I agree over time the Apple technology (and tie-ups) may wane in usage, its still much more protected from obsolescence than todays proprietary solutions.

    Many of the built-in navs in use for instance today were old tech before integrated/launched initially and therefore fall woefully inadequate of expectations by the 4th/5th year of life. CarPlay is a supplemental technology, its augments the in-built solution and therefore for instance a future PCM4 would include most of the current capabilities, but with a switchable mode to CarPlay to deprecate those in favour of Apple apps.

    The apps are *all* installed on the phone, nothing resides on the car side so to speak, thats just the API and tooling to enable Apple to hook into the hard buttons, display, dials, etc of the dash. So at least this way your systems will be as easily upgraded as an app update to your phone to address new features, fixes, etc. As is now becoming more obvious the CarPlay hooks for app developers are available to all from Apple and just include a new set of APIs to integrate in their apps, so we should see quite wide adoption.

    The interesting issue will be how this will force/cajole car makers into either moving their dash tech on to keep some level of parity with the Apple solution or eventually co-opt a more permanent Apple embedded solution in the future. I can see the disparity of using the car with iPhone and CarPlay and the same vehicle without becoming untenable in the near future.

    Of course, the interesting thing is will they also provide parity of features/access for other phone types, eg. Android, etc via (competing?) CarPlay like functionality.

    PCM3.x is already dipping its toe into these waters with the “online apps” for Internet Radio, etc, so it would be an obvious fit for Porsche to pursue CarPlay as the more “officially sanctioned” approach.

    Craig

  • CraigM says:

    BTW, if you’d like to see the competing proposal, its called MirrorLink and was also publicly debuted at Geneva, but got much less column inches.

    Fundamentally its a consortium of the remaining mobile players co-ordinating to provide similar functionality to CarPlay, so in principle a manufacturer might take its next gen PCM and integrate MirrorLink and also CarPlay and cover the whole field of operation … personally I see this as unlikely due to licensing lock-outs, etc, but its a possible viable strategy.

    So, like you, its TomTom on the iPhone until this all pans out, although personally I’ll be rooting for the Apple CarPlay solution, one look at the UI comparison between these two solutions is all I need to stick with Apple 😉

  • Phil says:

    Hi Craig

    Thanks for your great response. Good points and you are right that this will certainly help to keep a car up to date, which is good news.

    However, in time, Apple will move on, as it has done with, say, the iPad 1, which won’t run greater than iOS5. I don’t mind this, as it’s important for technology to move forward but it’s more of an issue with a car than a tablet!

    Phil

  • CraigM says:

    🙂 couldn’t agree more … but when the embedded tech becomes obsoleted by progress in the handhelds as you posit, then I’m sure we’ll both find ourselves where we are today … ie. ignoring the in-built and using the (better?) tech of the time in some supplemental fashion ala TomTom and iPhone paired very loosely.

    Car tech is becoming more dynamic and I think this is just one facet of that behaviour, probably todays best indicator of integration would be the radically dynamic Tesla, with its concept of car OS updates over the air. You’ll also see parallels in the BMW i3/i8 onboard systems. Notably, all 3 are from the clean-sheet school of design and acknowledge that in a market of falling sales and enhanced expectations from tech-savy consumers/buyers, the older model is no longer viable.

    Porsche is in a vanguard position for much of this and I’d expect its adoption to be very full and rapid over the coming years with integration of electric, hybrid and VW group tech into all its models, which frankly have plenty of margin in pricing to absorb development costs. Thats why personally I see the 918 and its tech as very significant and indicative of the future direction for Porsche, ala the 959 which foresaw many of the development directions of Porsche during the last 20 years.

    Its interesting to me that none/few of the printed and online magazines have chosen to really investigate the 918 Spyder from the angle of its prescience to future model adoption of tech in both its drivetrain but more importantly control systems and integration thereof — I think theres a huge untold story there …

  • David Baker says:

    I most definitely want Car Play on my 911 and my wife’s Cayenne.

    For years I have complained about the poor systems offered by Porsche and Merc. Having said that they are probably better than most.

    The complexity, functionality and usability are all poor. The screen quality is weak and the touch too tactile.

    We need better.

    It will influence the next car I buy. I may even delay until Porsche offer this solution

  • AndyG says:

    Finally, we have some acknowledgment from the automotive industry that their 15-year product life cycles are incompatible with the 12-month life cycles of smart phones. Even my 4-year old BMW’s in-built sat nav system, which isn’t bad in comparison with its peers, was out of date by the time it rolled off the production line, as Criag M pointed out. For the record, that system costs £2000 as an option from new and my £20 iPhone app wipes the floor with it.

    What’s desperately needed from the car side is the interface system from the user’s phone to the car systems, i.e. an easy-to-use input device, somewhere to mount it (with a power supply) and most importantly, a flexible, open software system that allows one end to talk to the other. That way, obsolescence is largely designed out, because when the user renews their handheld device, it is already compatible with the car’s inbuilt technologies.

    Look at the Porsche retro radio unit. It costs around £700 and will be obsolete in 2015 as it doesn’t have DAB, yet it’s been on the market for around 5 years without an update.

    It’s really not rocket science, but the car manufacturers have been hanging on to this outdated mode of operating for at least a decade. Let’s hope this round of new tech changes the market…

  • Rob says:

    The UI of modern smartphones is advancing so quickly that it makes every car infotainment interface I’ve ever seen look like it was coded by monkeys.

    I say let the UI experts keep up with the innovation, and let the car making experts do what they do best. Carplay (or ideally a cross-platform smartphone interface that works with Apple, Android, or whatever platform rises to the top in 5 years) makes sense, as long as it can be kept as future-proof and open as possible.

  • cafesitter says:

    Great discussion. I think the whole issue is that the car makers have a captive market for inforatainment. In 2006 I bought a first “nice” car Volvo XC 90. They asked something like €3,500 for phone bluetooth connection satnav and rear camera package. That sounded like waste of money and instead I got top speakers system and CD changer (but no AUX input). I naively thought I would be able to replace the Volvo radio by an aftermarket solution for a fraction of their ridiculous price. However I later realised that if I were to rip out the Volvo radio I would never be able to start the car again as the optical cables that run thriugh the radio carry also all the engine management information etc. I actually think it is done liek this on purpose to make sure that the infotainment systems in expensive cars dont face competition from aftermarket and the price for which you buy this “superb quality” is 80-90 pure profit. These days it is better but at the time the sat nav coverage of the Czech Republic where I was stationed at the time consisted of the road from rhe German border to Prague and that was pretty much it. So I think that opening that in built monitor real estate to third parties by car companies is a big deal and undoubtedly there are big discussiosn and slow progress as they try to protect as much of that €3,500 for €400 worth of tech racket as possible still ongoing.

    The Volvo needs a replacement now and I decided for a Porsche Macan but will not buy it until it is clear that (i) Porsche will place nice with my iPhone (ie CarPlay and Siri button on the wheel) and (ii) CarPlay will be open to 3rd party satnav – today I use Google Maps if I need to find an unfamiliar place and have confidnece in the result and Waze for the traffic and police trap info. Who knows what will be my favourite app in 2020 so I need CarPlay open.

    I am resigned to the fact that if Pioneer offers the aftermarket solution for $1,000 I will end up paying at least €2,000 for the same thing I just hope my 8 year Volvo wont break down before Porsche and Apple figure this out;)

  • Mark says:

    8-track forever! Why change?

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