For the past 26 years, Apple has held WWDC. This year was no exception and among the number of announcements that were made earlier this week, an update to CarPlay was one of them. As a reminder, CarPlay is a standard developed by Apple to allow devices running iOS to function with built-in display units of automobile dashboards. As of now, CarPlay can only be found in a handful of cars, but iOS 9 might change the deal for the automotive space in general, and MINI in particular.
Thanks to the pending i0S 9 update, CarPlay becomes wireless. It was actually part of the iOS 8.3 update, but Craig Federighi used the keynote address to remind everyone of this feature. We are getting close to day when you won’t have to take anything out of your pocket or bag when entering your car. Keyless entry is becoming a standard feature and soon your smartphone will connect to the infotainment sytem wirelessly.
CarPlay will also become compatible with a variety of screens. That means higher aspect ratios and higher DPI. A welcome addition given the different types of screens found across car brands.
The most important part of the announcement is in regards to opening the platform to automakers. Up until now, CarPlay was just a feature within the larger infotainment environment of the car. For instance, if you wanted to access any car-related controls such as the temperature, you had to get out of CarPlay and then come back in. Not a pleasant user experience to say the least. Now, Apple is allowing automakers to make an app within CarPlay that can control any aspect of the car. In some ways, Apple is changing the rules of the game, something they are really good at doing.
CarPlay’s adoption is far from being meteoric. Car makers are reluctant to hand the keys to their environment to Apple, and there are safety concerns to take into consideration when accessing key features of the car (e.g. tire pressure, oil level). iOS 9 is a potential solution for the latter issue.
Our contacts at MINI repeatedly told us that CarPlay is being investigated but we don’t know if it will ever become available. Since BMW competitors (i.e. Mercedes, VW Group) are adopting the system, it’s safe to say that the BMW Group will get there eventually. After investing so much time and resources developing iDrive and MINI Connected, potentially letting these systems go is a tough pill to swallow.
If we had to guess, we think CarPlay should become available with the F54 Clubman. With the optional all-digital instrument package, it just makes sense. What’s your guess?