Apple's CarPlay vs. MirrorLink: Is there a need for both?

MirrorLink may someday be able to replicate any smartphone on a cars infotainment system

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The MirrorLink standard was originally designed by Nokia, but it is now owned by the CCC, an organization found in 2011. The CCC certifies apps and smartphones for the MirrorLink standard with a specific focus on alleviating driver distraction.

The promise of MirrorLink is that it will eventually enable Android, Microsoft, Blackberry and possibly Apple smartphones to connect to IVI systems. Apple did not respond to a request for comment.

"It would be either a software developer or a tier-one supplier who would develop MirrorLink to be compatible with iOS," Boyadjis said. "That could happen in conjunction with CarPlay and in conjunction with something that comes out of the Open Automotive Alliance on the Android side and maybe yet another one.

"The point is that [CarPlay] is just one of many standards," he added.

A Wi-Fi version of MirrorLink is expected in the next version due out later this year, which would allow smartphones to connect wirelessly to IVI systems.

"As a technology standard, one of MirrorLink's greatest attributes is that it is OS agnostic," Ewing said. "We're glad that Apple has recognized that screen replication is a viable solution to using smartphones in the car, but also reaffirms that MirrorLink is the only technology that is not proprietary in nature in this space."

Through its MirrorLink Developer Fast Track program, the MirrorLink API has already created interfaces for some Android apps to link to IVIs, such as Glympse, Coyote and Parkopedia.

At the Geneva International Motor Show this week, PSA Peugeot Citroën unveiled two new MirrorLink-enabled vehicles, among the world's first.

At the World Mobile Congress conference last week, Volkswagen, Honda and Toyota also showed factory prototype consoles with MirrorLink capability.

According to IHS Automotive, only about 215,000 cars with Apple's new CarPlay will be sold this year. By 2020, IHS projects about 25 million CarPlay-enabled IVI units will have been sold. "So there's significant growth, but 25 million units is still only 25% of the cars that will be sold, so it's not reaching critical mass, even by the end of this decade," Boyadjis said.

Mercedes and Honda are expected to be the first companies to deliver CarPlay late this year in some 2015 models, Boyadjis said.

"It's just basically a battle between an iOS function, an Android function and Windows Mobile," Boyadjis added. "MirrorLink is a great solution and we'll see other MirrorLink-type solutions, whether it's MirrrorLink branded or another iteration of that technology deployed as CarPlay."

Lucas Mearian covers consumer data storage, consumerization of IT, mobile device management, renewable energy, telematics/car tech and entertainment tech for Computerworld. Follow Lucas on Twitter at  @lucasmearian or subscribe to Lucas's RSS feed . His e-mail address is lmearian@computerworld.com.

See more by Lucas Mearian on Computerworld.com.

Copyright © 2014 IDG Communications, Inc.

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