Any news from Apple Inc. is big in the tech world, but what about when it pertains to the car industry? Apple made headlines with the official launch of its CarPlay service, which will pair your iPhone 5, 5S, 5C or above with your car’s infotainment system in new and interesting ways. CarPlay is designed to be easy and safer to use behind the wheel, relying on Siri voice control and built-in switchgear so you never have to reach for your phone.
Apple’s latest-generation mobile operating system, iOS 7, will bring big changes to the way the company’s millions of ardent fans use their smartphones. Among the new features, iOS 7, releasing this Fall, will have a clear focus on pairing with in-car infotainment systems using a new interface Apple is calling “iOS in the Car“.
Car buyers and carmakers alike have a love affair with cutting-edge in-car technology. Consumers leading today’s digital lifestyles want to be able to commute without skipping a beat, and automakers rely on a continuous stream of new features to bring buyers into showrooms, and let’s be honest, to drive up transaction prices.
Though evolving not without some growing pains, SYNC has stayed ahead the competition through a continuous rollout of cutting-edge features, as well as pioneering the use of standards like USB and Bluetooth that mean your iPhone 5 or Galaxy S III smartphone of today will still play nice with a 2008 Focus running the platform’s first version. Since consumers upgrade these devices much more often than cars, developing a platform that didn’t become obsolete immediately was key to Ford’s success.
Today, SYNC has grown to include full voice control using natural speech; AppLink, which can run internet radio and other in-car apps by piggybacking your smartphone’s data connection; and MyFord Touch, which replaces many in-car control systems with an intuitive touchscreen interface. Ford recently led all automakers in ABI Research’s OEM Automotive Infotainment Competitive Assessment, followed by BMW and Toyota.
Consumers are ordering up in-car navigation systems with increasingly frequency as the handy devices become standard equipment on a greater range of vehicles, with prices continuing to fall across the board. According to The Detroit Bureau, North American on-board nav system sales should reach 3 million units this year, more than quadrupling to 12.9 million units by 2019.
The biggest shift results from a new pricing strategy. Now pairing with tech companies like Microsoft, Apple and Google, new car manufacturers are offering advanced in-car navigation as standard equipment or for just a few hundred dollars instead of the thousands we are used to. At the same time, feature content has exploded to include data-connected Google Maps, dynamic traffic rerouting and, in the near future, even an Apple Siri voice-controlled digital personal assistant button built into the steering wheel.
Nearly one in four vehicles sold in North America is now equipped with on-board navigation. For customers that don’t need a more-expensive in-dash touchscreen unit, Ford and GM now offer basic voice-guided navigation, with directions sent from a real person, as part of their SYNC and OnStar packages, respectively.
The only real losers here are firms like TomTom and Garmin who produce inexpensive aftermarket add-on nav systems. With factory-installed systems now coming with so many more features and many consumers’ navigation duties handled by smartphones, these small, often more-basic systems are quickly falling in popularity.