Carmakers 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 rollout of CarPlay, the software platform from Apple that synchronizes an iPhone to a vehicle's infotainment system.

At the same time, automakers are also queuing up Google's Android Auto for mirroring those smartphones to radio systems. Android Auto is expected to outpace CarPlay in manufacturer deployments, according to research firm IHS.

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

Three of five leading carmakers who had expected to integrate the CarPlay middleware for 2015 models coming out this year appear to have delayed their rollout.

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

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

Honda had planned a 2014 rollout, but is expected to delay that move as well until 2015, according to IHS.

Colin Bird, a senior analyst for Software, Apps, & Services at IHS, 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 carmaker that still plans a 2014 deployment of CarPlay and 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 models year for sure."

Apple, which refers to CarPlay as "iOS in the car," and Android Auto will enable simpler, but similar user interfaces on a vehicle's infotainment system, also known as the radio head unit. Once connected, 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. Those carmakers 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 also take up 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 standards such as MirrorLink can also handle Android, Windows and Blackberry phones.

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

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

Just as with native vehicle infotainment apps, CarPlay-enabled and Android Auto-enabled apps can be controlled by voice, through a car's built-in touchscreen or by steering wheel-mounted controls.

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.

Read more about emerging technologies in Computerworld's Emerging Technologies Topic Center.

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