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Inside the tech behind CarPlay, Apple's new in-vehicle infotainment system

post #1 of 50
Thread Starter 
Apple's newly-announced CarPlay system seems to bear more than an onomastic resemblance to AirPlay, as evidence mounts that the celebrated media streaming technology may underpin Apple's vehicular ambitions.

Volvo


CarPlay represents an ambitious leap for Apple into a fragmented landscape dominated by proprietary technologies and processes. The company must find a way to meld hundreds of different control layouts featuring multiple combinations of knobs, buttons, and touchscreens with what has traditionally been a system centered on a single pane of glass.

One way for Apple to cut through the muck may be to adapt a familiar, flexible tool that has already been adopted by dozens of third-party manufacturers for the task: AirPlay.

While Apple has been characteristically tight-lipped about CarPlay's technical details, admitting only that the feature will require a Lightning-equipped iPhone at launch, its automotive partners have been more forthcoming.

Mercedes


Data from the iPhone's display is sent to the vehicle's in-dash screen via an H.264 video stream, according to Volvo. Apple's long-standing "AirPlay mirroring" feature -- which allows users to mirror the display of a compatible Mac or iOS device to an Apple TV --?works the same way, encoding display output in H.264 and transmitting it over a standard TCP network connection.

CarPlay goes further, Volvo said, by providing a means to return input from the vehicle's touchscreen to the user's iPhone. Such a facility for monitoring and transmitting control events is already built in to AirPlay, allowing users to control media playback through their AirPlay-enabled speakers or Apple TV.



Though AirPlay is a wireless standard and CarPlay requires an iPhone tethered via a special Lightning cable, there are indications that Apple intends for future revisions to function wirelessly. Volvo initially said that Wi-Fi support is "coming in the near future" before removing that statement from press materials, perhaps a sign that CarPlay over Wi-Fi is simply not yet ready for a public debut.

The most overt indication that CarPlay springs from the AirPlay family tree, however, came from Mercedes-Benz. Touting CarPlay's ease-of-use during a press event in advance of this week's Geneva Auto Show, one executive from the German marque called out the streaming standard by name.

"If you know Apple's AirPlay, you know what I'm talking about," he told the assembled crowd.
post #2 of 50
Mercedes solution is ugly. It looks like someone bolted a $99 Android tablet on the dash.

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post #3 of 50
Wireless functionality will be welcome though I love my wired cradle. Its the natural place for my phone in the car and it is the only charging I ever do except occasionally on week-ends.
post #4 of 50
Quote:
Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post

Mercedes solution is ugly. It looks like someone bolted a $99 Android tablet on the dash.


I was thinking the same thing (with regards to the UI). That looks incredibly ugly. This is the factory interface:





Edited by Mazda 3s - 3/3/14 at 1:33pm
post #5 of 50
Quote:
Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post

Mercedes solution is ugly. It looks like someone bolted a $99 Android tablet on the dash.

That weird screen isn't unique to cars with CarPlay. It is part of the new Mercedes interior design language for some of their cars. The S Class doesn't have that screen....it has two giant screens. I agree though. Seems like a lazy after thought of the design, and that's coming from someone who loves and owns a Merc.
post #6 of 50
Quote:
Originally Posted by paxman View Post

Wireless functionality will be welcome though I love my wired cradle. Its the natural place for my phone in the car and it is the only charging I ever do except occasionally on week-ends.

I think I read somewhere that wireless will be coming as well.
post #7 of 50
Hmmmm. This may explain why auto manufacturers were so tight-lipped at CES. A guy I know went to CES, and he said that all the auto reps had been told to not say anything about in-dash technology and/or connectivity. I guess the CarPlay news was embargoed.

The embargo makes sense from Apple's and the auto manufacturers' perspectives. Why announce anything at CES, where there is little if any coverage by the automotive press? Better to make important announcements at the major worldwide auto shows. (But then again, why would automakers bother to go to CES in the first place, except as an excuse to go to Vegas, baby!?)

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post #8 of 50
all over the web, people are confusing the apple announcement with a hardware announcement. the hardware is provided by car manufacturers. apple has nothing to do with it, well, except for setting standards that must be met for compatibility.

apple has only released software that hardware manufacturers can take advantage of via an api.
post #9 of 50
Agreed the Mercedes one is kinda fugly- they should just remove it and make a place to mount an iPad, and then sell that with the car. As crazy as it sounds people will buy and expensive car for the free perks. "Well, I'm not buying it *for* the iPad, but if we buy that one instead of the Beemer, hey, free iPad" Plus it ads the potential to automatically update your ride with a new iPad every year.

Dissappointed at the firewire requirement though. Having to stop every time you get in your car and fidget around to connect your iPhone doesn't strike me as very Applesque. Much cleaner to just get in your car, have it automatically connect wirelessly and off you go.

It does add a lot of potential down the road. Set your alarm with Siri for your daily wake up call and have her wake you, set the coffee pot brewing, and open your garage door and get the car warming up and the climate control set for your arrival. Car will auto unlock once it senses your phone in proximity and automatically check maps to see if theres any traffic on your normal commute route.
post #10 of 50

I wonder if this is a precursor to a new family of products that will allow for external display/control of an iOS device outside of the car application?  I'm thinking of home automation systems that won't require an ipad be mounted in the wall of my home...maybe something smaller and more singularly focused (sans 1/8" jack, speaker, etc.) that would allow the device to be thinner.

post #11 of 50
The Mercedes implementation is ugly. I thought at first it was a beta mock or a joke. Horrible

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post #12 of 50
Quote:
Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post

Mercedes solution is ugly. It looks like someone bolted a $99 Android tablet on the dash.

Not so fast...  It takes a little getting use to.

You have to at least test drive one of those vehicles to really appreciate it.  

It's actually very nice & classy.  The displays are unbelievably sharp with super crisp fonts.

These are the interiors of the G-Class and S-Class respectively...  MSRP $114,200 and $92,900 respectively...

post #13 of 50
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleSauce007 View Post
 

Not so fast...  It takes a little getting use to.

You have to at least test drive one of those vehicles to really appreciate it.  

It's actually very nice & classy.  The displays are unbelievably sharp with super crisp fonts.

These are the interiors of the G-Class and S-Class respectively...  MSRP $114,200 and $92,900 respectively...

 

The dash on the S is amazing. Actually...the S is an amazing car in general. I don't like the dash of the G or the new C. The screen is just placed there. I have a late model E cabriolet and at least the screen is part of the dash on my car.

post #14 of 50
Maybe Mercedes should have hired/borrowed Jony Ive for the design of their implementation. Whoever designed what they currently have obviously outsourced it to a three year old Android fan....idiots.
post #15 of 50
is this the first time since the days of mac clones that apple has allowed its software to run on non apple hard wear?
post #16 of 50

Onomastic. Nice word. Learn something new every day.

 

Before now I would have surmised it referred to an Android user's self-abuse.

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post #17 of 50
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kevinneal View Post

is this the first time since the days of mac clones that apple has allowed its software to run on non apple hard wear?

 

I think the point is that its software isn't running on the car's hardware, anymore than using AppleTV means that Apple software is "running" on your TV. The head unit is the display, and the head unit/steering wheel buttons are the controls (like an external keyboard or game controller for an iPad, for example). But the actual programs are running on the phone.

post #18 of 50
It's about time. Although, I guess that means Mophie is going to have to do something with putting lightning-ports on their external battery packs because there's is no way I want to continuously be removing that case to plug into a car.

That said, it's about time. I'm planning on purchase a new car this year and sadly, I'm pretty sure I won't be getting this anytime soon. 1frown.gif
post #19 of 50

Is wireless really necessary when you'll not want to drain your phone battery. I really don't see the point it in being wireless.

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post #20 of 50
Quote:
Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post

Mercedes solution is ugly. It looks like someone bolted a $99 Android tablet on the dash.

Were you too busy looking at the their 'tablet-esque' solution to notice the turbine engine sized vents right below it? They could climate control a school bus. lol.gif
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post #21 of 50
I'll take an add-on aftermarket screen that looks like that, please! I want CarPlay... but I already have a car.
post #22 of 50
Quote:
Originally Posted by foad View Post

The dash on the S is amazing. Actually...the S is an amazing car in general. I don't like the dash of the G or the new C. The screen is just placed there. I have a late model E cabriolet and at least the screen is part of the dash on my car.
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"Just because something is deemed the law doesn't make it just" - SolipsismX
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post #23 of 50
Quote:
Originally Posted by dasanman69 View Post

<snip>

 

Hahahaha! That's actually one of my favorite skits!

 

I wasn't trying to be a snob...but reading it, maybe I sounded like that. Ooops. :D

post #24 of 50
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kevinneal View Post

is this the first time since the days of mac clones that apple has allowed its software to run on non apple hard wear?

 

It's not running on non-Apple hardware per se. It's based on AirPlay and it's doing is mirroring the iOS device but iOS is pushing an alternate UI. There are all sorts of vendors that interface with iOS devices using that standard. 

post #25 of 50
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ireland View Post
 

Is wireless really necessary when you'll not want to drain your phone battery. I really don't see the point it in being wireless.

 

That's what I was thinking too, especially when you start talking about using Maps or streaming non-locally saved music on Spotify. Although, having that interface for phone calls, messages and other relatively lightweight stuff, it hopefully wouldn't be that bad seeing as AirPlay is pretty efficient.

post #26 of 50

It looks like the iPhone is poised to become the R2D2 unit of car manufacturers

post #27 of 50
Quote:
Originally Posted by foad View Post

Hahahaha! That's actually one of my favorite skits!

I wasn't trying to be a snob...but reading it, maybe I sounded like that. Ooops. 1biggrin.gif

Not snobbish at all. Oh and I just ordered my Mo' Money Valet Kit so I can drive a big crazy Mercedes too. lol.gif
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"Just because something is deemed the law doesn't make it just" - SolipsismX
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post #28 of 50
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ireland View Post
 

Is wireless really necessary when you'll not want to drain your phone battery. I really don't see the point it in being wireless.

WiFi or Bluetooth would be better I think. My phone is in my pocket. I just want to get in the car and go like I do now. I don't want to have to remove my phone from my pocket and plug it in, back and forth while running errands. Perhaps if I was driving longer distances I wouldn't care about having to plug it in but as it is now, I drive less than 5,000 km per year which is around 15-20 minutes a day, so it seems like more hassle than it is worth.

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post #29 of 50
Originally Posted by Mazda 3s View Post

 

Man, who really needs that many speakers, anyway? :lol:

Originally Posted by Slurpy

There's just a TINY chance that Apple will also be able to figure out payments. Oh wait, they did already… …and you’re already fucked.

 

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Originally Posted by Slurpy

There's just a TINY chance that Apple will also be able to figure out payments. Oh wait, they did already… …and you’re already fucked.

 

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post #30 of 50
Just to drive your car to your destination?
Sorry, I'll pass on this one!

BTW I now own a 10.5 yr old lovely USA sports sedan, plus an iPhone, but I have no intention of combining them in this car or any later car I may purchase!
post #31 of 50
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post

Man, who really needs that many speakers, anyway? lol.gif

Those air vents do look like Piezo tweeters.
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"Just because something is deemed the law doesn't make it just" - SolipsismX
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post #32 of 50

When I bought my 2013 Tacoma, I opted for the basic touch screen stereo instead of the much more expensive navigation system (I believe Entune navigation is now included in everything except the basic truck package for 2014). I like their iPhone interface but the display wouldn't be good enough for maps and other things. My point is this option was going to be an extra $1500 at least, much more than the cost of an iPad or iPad mini, which could fit right into my dash. I doubt Toyota will make an after market upgrade option although someone like Alpine might but either way, these will be much more expensive than they really need to be. An iPhone or iPad already has GPS and everything else the CarPlay system appears to have, other than a tuner and an amplifier. I'd much rather see someone build a CarPlay head unit without a display allowing me to plug in my iPhone or an iPad mini (my cars don't have room for a display like Tesla uses). I would hope this would be much less expensive (not counting the iOS device) than they're planning on charging for CarPlay interaction from the mentioned auto manufacturers.

post #33 of 50
Howdy fellow car designers - am I the only one to notice that Apple's bloated candy-screens merely add distraction to a cars dashboard and thus are amazingly poor design?
Guess I am...
post #34 of 50
Quote:
Originally Posted by medvedekPRO View Post

Howdy fellow car designers - am I the only one to notice that Apple's bloated candy-screens merely add distraction to a cars dashboard and thus are amazingly poor design?
Guess I am...

So the problem is their "candy-screens," not simply being a screen in a car that predates CarPlay? Would it be better if Apple uses harder to read monochrome buttons?

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"There is no rule that says the best phones must have the largest screen." ~RoundaboutNow

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"There is no rule that says the best phones must have the largest screen." ~RoundaboutNow

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post #35 of 50

Nope. But better use of spacial positioning and more intelligent choices of color would be a start.

What I'm trying to say, is, a car interior requires a little more thought than has been put into iOS design.

post #36 of 50
Originally Posted by medvedekPRO View Post
am I the only one

 

Yep. Thanks for telling us.

Originally Posted by Slurpy

There's just a TINY chance that Apple will also be able to figure out payments. Oh wait, they did already… …and you’re already fucked.

 

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Originally Posted by Slurpy

There's just a TINY chance that Apple will also be able to figure out payments. Oh wait, they did already… …and you’re already fucked.

 

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post #37 of 50
Quote:
Originally Posted by dasanman69 View Post


Were you too busy looking at the their 'tablet-esque' solution to notice the turbine engine sized vents right below it? They could climate control a school bus. lol.gif

 

Yeah, not 2, but 3 vents. Plenty of air circulation for the tablet.

post #38 of 50

Wonder when Ford's going to drop Microsoft's notoriously buggy SYNC for CarPlay.

post #39 of 50
Quote:
Originally Posted by AlmondRoca View Post

Wonder when Ford's going to drop Microsoft's notoriously buggy SYNC for CarPlay.
They've already planned to be replacing Microsoft with Blackberry's QNX according to press reports. Note that Apple's CarPlay also use QNX for the backbone.
http://www.computerworld.com/s/article/9246597/Why_Ford_is_dumping_Microsoft_for_Blackberry_s_QNX_OS
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post #40 of 50
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gatorguy View Post


They've already planned to be replacing Microsoft with Blackberry's QNX according to press reports. Note that Apple's CarPlay also use QNX for the backbone.
http://www.computerworld.com/s/article/9246597/Why_Ford_is_dumping_Microsoft_for_Blackberry_s_QNX_OS

 

Thanks for this article...relatively recent developments.

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