GM to offer both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto on most vehicles

The move follows Hyundai's embrace of Android Auto

General Motors will begin offering both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto in most of its 2016 vehicles, allowing customers to mirror their smartphones and their apps to their infotainment systems.

GM's announcement today follows one earlier this week by Hyundai, which said it would offer Android Auto in its Sonata Sedan this year. The smartphone mirroring application is available as a software upgrade in current 2015 vehicles.

"For most of us, our smartphones are essential," GM CEO Mary Barra said in a statement. "Partnering with Apple and Google to offer CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility across the widest range of models in the industry is a great example of how Chevrolet continues to democratize technology that's important to our customers."

In all, 14 Chevrolet models will be available with the smartphone mirroring APIs. Those include the all-new 2016 Cruze compact, which will debut on June 24. Cruze is Chevrolet’s best-selling passenger car, with more than three million sold since launch.

Some of GM's Chevrolet vehicles -- such as the Malibu, Camaro and Silverado truck -- use a seven-inch MyLink infotainment system; those systems will be compatible with both Android Auto and Apple CarPlay in the beginning of 2016. Other GM vehicles use an eight-inch version of MyLink that will only be compatible with Apple CarPlay at the beginning of the new model year.

Android Auto Google

Hyundai also announced it will be offering Android Auto in the Sonata this year.

While development and testing is not yet complete, Android Auto compatibility may be available on the eight-inch version of MyLink later in the 2016 model year, GM said.

Either application is simple to use in a compatible 2016 Chevrolet vehicle, GM said. A "Projection" icon on the MyLink screen is visible when a phone is not connected, then changes to indicate either CarPlay or Android Auto (whichever is applicable) when a compatible phone is connected via USB. Android Auto requires a phone running the Android Lollipop 5.0 operating system or above, while Apple CarPlay requires an iPhone 5 or later.

Ford has also announced its plans for including the Android and Apple mirroring APIs through its own SYNC infotainment system, though it hasn't stated an actual timeline. The carmaker, which uses its proprietary AppLink API for connecting smartphones to its vehicle head unit, said it will launch its latest the SYNC 3 system this summer, which uses Blackberry's QNX OS versus the previous Microsoft platform.

Ford's AppLink automatically discovers compatible apps on a smartphone and displays their information. Music and news apps are automatically displayed along with other media sources, just like AM/FM or SiriusXM.

According to ABI Research, Apple's CarPlay API for iPhone integration will dominate the auto industry and will be installed in more than 24 million vehicles over the next four years.

In a report, ABI pointed to announcements from more than half a dozen manufacturers that plan to install CarPlay in new vehicles. Those carmakers include Ford, BMW, Audi, Mercedes, Jaguar/Land Rover, Toyota, Nissan, and Volvo.

Even if 24 million cars are using CarPlay, that doesn't mean they won't also be able to use competing APIs, such as Android Auto, GENIVI or MirrorLink, an API being touted by the Car Connectivity Consortium (CCC).

For example, Mercedes Benz became the first car company to demonstrate Apple's new CarPlay interface for the iPhone 5 and later models at the Geneva Motor Show earlier this year. It also reemphasized its support for MirrorLink's OS-agnostic standard for the same purpose.

Copyright © 2015 IDG Communications, Inc.

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