Next-gen CarPlay killed the radio star

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Next-gen CarPlay killed the radio star

Eddy Cue teased “iOS in the Car” in 2013, and Apple released CarPlay as an update to iOS 8 a year later. CarPlay was slow to be adopted by automakers in the first few years. Pioneer brought CarPlay to existing cars first in 2014, then Hyundai released the first new vehicle with CarPlay integration in 2015.

Now, a decade since its first public appearance, it has become harder* to buy a new car without CarPlay. Yet General Motors is positioning itself as a new adversary for Apple and CarPlay. Greedy and nefarious reasons for dropping Apple CarPlay from GM EVs are most likely to blame, but I do wonder if a certain preview from Apple is a factor too.

If it’s GM or CarPlay, I’m walking

Apple likes CarPlay, companies like making apps for CarPlay, and most importantly, car buyers expect CarPlay. The feature lets you connect your iPhone to almost any modern car and access your music library, phone contacts, and preferred navigation system with a user interface you already know. In fact, General Motors saw enough customer satisfaction with CarPlay that it started unbolting its own navigation system in favor of Apple and Google Maps through CarPlay in 2017.

So how is General Motors moving abandoning CarPlay support in EVs, as first reported by Reuters? The 2024 model all-electric Chevy Blazer will be the first EV to embark on this bold new journey, according to the report.

GM’s bet must be that there is more money to be made in partnering with Google and Spotify than there is in selling EVs equipped with Apple CarPlay. Other automakers have already monetized CarPlay by locking the feature behind a paywall. And while I once compared CarPlay as a subscription to charging fees for wearing your seatbelt, the gross BMW approach is better than the GM way.

Or maybe there’s more value in the Chevy Blazer brand than in Apple CarPlay, and only GM has the data to prove it. Never underestimate the value of 70s pickup trucks, folks.

In reality, my guess is that the market will do its thing and consumers will continue to favor CarPlay when possible. The 2024 Chevy Blazer, which is otherwise a rather generic electric crossover, will not be so successful that more automakers consider a future without CarPlay.

This is the bold new infotainment center design, sans CarPlay, that will come with the electric Blazer this summer:

I predict GM will reverse this decision in time and bring CarPlay along for the ride after all.

It’s one thing for Tesla and Rivian to never support CarPlay. Both companies have innovative electric vehicles: full size and compact electric sedans and crossovers from Tesla and the first-to-market electric truck from Rivian. It’s another thing for a company to try to put the CarPlay genie back in the CarPlay bottle after being known to support it.

Replacing your internal combustion engine Chevy that has CarPlay with a new electric car from Chevrolet that doesn’t? For now, there are plenty of automakers shipping great electric vehicles with impressive CarPlay integration. This already-available electric crossover is a fine CarPlay citizen.

CarPlay 2013-2023

However, I might have this all wrong. What if General Motors is not rejecting CarPlay as we have it today, but rather rejecting next-gen CarPlay that we were shown in June 2022?

There’s no reason to believe that automakers won’t be able to continue offering plain and contained CarPlay, but car buyers in 2030 might expect CarPlay support to mean the extensive user interface takeover that Apple unveiled at WWDC 2022.

For GM, the decision may be a blunt vote against a future where car buyers expect interior displays to present a homogenous experience designed by Apple. If this is a factor in GM’s decision, I’m less confident that CarPlay will make a comeback in GM cars. GM might actually be a trendsetter.

Is GM greedy and shortsighted, or will GM be the first of many automakers exiting CarPlay land before Apple sets a new standard with next-gen CarPlay? If insecure carmakers won’t adopt next-gen CarPlay, perhaps Apple should toss around the idea of making its own car some day. Just a thought.

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