Automakers put Apple's CarPlay in the slow lane

They're also looking to include Android, which IHS says will dominate the market

Some car manufacturers are delaying their rollouts of CarPlay, the software platform from Apple that synchronizes iPhones to vehicle infotainment systems.

At the same time, auto makers are queuing up Google's Android Auto for mirroring Android-based phones to radio systems. Android Auto is expected to outpace CarPlay in manufacturer deployments, according to research firm IHS.

Apple's website proclaims that CarPlay will be available in "select new cars in 2014." But, to date, no car manufacturer has rolled out the software, according to Filomena Berardi, a senior analyst at ABI Research.

It appears that CarPlay rollouts have been delayed by three of five leading automakers that had been expected to integrate the middleware into 2015 models that will come out this year.

Apple CarPlay
Some of the basic apps available on Apple's CarPlay user interface. (Image: Apple)

Mercedes-Benz confirmed that it is delaying its CarPlay rollout until next year. Volvo, according to 9to5Mac, indicated that it, too, is delaying its rollout until 2015.

Likewise, Honda had planned a 2014 rollout but is now expected to put that move off until 2015, according to IHS.

A Honda spokesman said the company has yet to make any specific announcement as to the timing of the rollout or which models will get CarPlay. "Until we make a more formal announcement, I can't speculate on it," he said.

IHS analyst Colin Bird said CarPlay and Android Auto are relatively simple middleware applications that shouldn't present much of a challenge for automakers to integrate. "For Volvo, part of it seems to be either a miscommunication or a delay of the product CarPlay's being deployed on, which is the XC90 SUV," Bird said, adding that the new vehicle model is now due out in 2015 in North America.

In an email reply to Computerworld, a Volvo spokesman said the company will announce all details about its CarPlay plans at the world premiere of the new Volvo XC90, which will take place on Tuesday.

Hyundai is one automaker that still plans a 2014 deployment of CarPlay and Android Auto.

Android Auto
Android Auto's music player. (Image: Google)

"Right now, they're performing the final validation work as we speak," said Hyundai spokesman Miles Johnson. "We're still planning to have it in the 2015 model year for sure."

CarPlay -- which Apple calls "iOS in the car" -- and Android Auto will enable similar uncomplicated user interfaces on a vehicle's infotainment system, also known as the radio head unit. With the middleware in place, basic iPhone and Android apps, such as phone, music and maps, will appear as icons in the infotainment touchscreen display.

Two dozen manufacturers plan to implement CarPlay and/or Android Auto in new vehicles. They include Chrysler, Fiat, Maserati, Ford, Honda, Hyundai, Kia, Mitsubishi, Subaru, Suzuki, BMW, Audi, Mercedes-Benz, Jaguar/Land Rover, Toyota, Nissan, Ferrari and Volvo.

According to IHS, Android Auto will outpace CarPlay in deployments through the year 2020.

Both Android Auto and CarPlay are expected to be deployed in at least 100,000 vehicles this year, according to Bird. However, over the next six years, Android Auto will see a 179% annual growth rate, while Apple's CarPlay will see a 165% annual growth rate.

In 2020, Android Auto will be deployed in 40 million cars versus 37 million for CarPlay, Bird said.

Open-source middleware platforms, such as MirrorLink, OAA and GENIVI will account for a much smaller share of the smartphone/infotainment system integration market, according to IHS.

Unlike CarPlay and Android Auto, which enable integration only with iOS and Android devices, open-source platforms such as MirrorLink can handle multiple platforms, including Windows Phone and BlackBerry.

"For MirrorLink, we only see 3 million in 2016," Bird said. "That's just because of the popularity of iOS and Android."

Android Auto
Android Auto's navigation interface. (Image: Google)

As is the case with native vehicle infotainment apps, CarPlay and Android Auto apps can be controlled by voice, through a car's built-in touchscreen or by controls mounted on the steering wheel.

The middleware is part of the head-unit or infotainment system that interfaces to the middleware in Android or iPhone smartphones.

While some companies are pushing the envelope to release their middleware this year, others -- such as Toyota -- are targeting a 2015 release.

"So it just seems like part of it is different strategies... or just simple product delays," Bird said.

Copyright © 2014 IDG Communications, Inc.

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