Why Tesla can get by without CarPlay but other car makers can't

in General Discussion
General Motors plans to ditch CarPlay and do its own new infotainment, but if the company thinks it can do what Tesla does, it's wildly mistaken.

Future CarPlay

GM predicts it can use its own infotainment software to build a subscription revenue business worth $20 to $25 billion a year, by 2030. If it can get close to that, it makes sense that it would try.

Tesla has been doing its own in-car content, bucking the trend of adopting mobile phone projection systems like CarPlay or Android Auto, all the while selling millions of EVs. I'm sure it's hard for GM and other automakers to not think they can do the same thing.

The problem is that GM isn't really trying to replicate what Tesla is doing with its in-car content. It's unlikely hiring Apple's former head of iCloud, Mike Abbott, to lead its integrated software department probably will help.

The only reason Tesla can get away with not offering CarPlay is because its cars are so feature-rich, new owners don't miss CarPlay or what it offers -- at least for a long time.

In place of the familiarity of people's phones, Tesla is offering an abundance of features and other advancements at a rapid pace.

GM doesn't just need to offer a few apps or a good interface, it needs to give owners an overwhelming amount of apps and content with at least a decent visual interface.

Until it can do that, GM and others should stick to CarPlay and stop betting against the familiarity of people's personal devices and apps.

Tesla's infotainment features

For those who aren't familiar with the content and features available on Tesla vehicles, these lists should provide a glimpse of what GM is up against.

Streaming music services

  • Spotify

  • Apple Music

  • Tidal

  • TuneIn

  • Streaming radio

  • HD Radio
Games and video services are not available unless the vehicle is parked. Both of these categories offer plenty of things to do while at a charging station, waiting for others in a store, or plenty of other times while in the car and not driving.

As for what games you can actually play, they range fom classics such as Chess, Backgammon, Solitaire, and Soduku to more involving options. These include Beach Buggy Racing 2, Stardrew Valley, and Cup Head.

Streaming video services

  • YouTube

  • Hulu

  • Netflix

  • Disney+

  • Twitch

  • TikTok

Additional features

Along with other driving-focused features and your expected infotainment fare, Tesla also adds a lot more functionality to its version, beyond what you would normally anticipate. This includes:
  • Web browser

  • Sentry remote live video view

  • Boombox - play sound externally through the Pedestrian Warning System (PWS) speaker

  • Sketchpad - drawing app

  • Light show - flashing headlights to music

  • Trax - recording studio and beatmaker

  • Simulated romantic fireplace

  • And more
This list of features and content doesn't even account for the company's full self-driving service, which includes navigating on autopilot, auto lane change, autopark, summon, smart summon, and traffic light and stop sign control.

It also doesn't account for being able to make fart noises inside and outside of the car. That's supposed to be a feature and not a bug, by the way.

All these software features are also in addition to new electric vehicle owners getting familiar with charging a car, using the Supercharger network, and the driving differences of an EV.

Tesla cars offer much more content options than any legacy automaker even comes close to. Even Rivian doesn't currently offer native access to video services, games, Apple Music, or general streaming radio. Of course, Apple Music did take a while to come to Tesla cars.

CarPlay apps

While Tesla might not use CarPlay, it hasn't snubbed the iPhone. Its mobile app is excellent and even goes above and beyond to support Home Screen and Lock Screen widgets.

The future of infotainment

To be clear, none of this is in defense of Tesla or any other car manufacturer. I wish CarPlay was a factory option on Tesla vehicles -- and all cars.

But since Tesla doesn't offer the capability, it at least makes an effort to offer a lot of content options.

CarPlay apps

Tesla charges $99 a year for its premium connectivity, but it doesn't limit people from using navigation or games. The video services can still be used on Wi-Fi as long as you log in to ones that need a subscription.

My prediction is that GM's infotainment initiative will run for several years before it gets scrapped or significantly altered. And, I'm not alone is this guess.

Eventually, I do think GM will at least unceremoniously add-in support for Apple's CarPlay, because Android Automotive, the underlying real-time OS GM is using, already supports it.

Either that or GM feels the pressure from Ford and other car companies and adds CarPlay support even sooner.

As Warren Buffett continues to point out, people love their iPhones and it would be silly to bet against Apple.

Read on AppleInsider


  • Reply 1 of 90
    To be honest not many people (at least the people i know) use any form of carplay. Only recent cars have came around to it and it will probably take another 5 years for it to go mainstream when people finally upgrade their cars
  • Reply 2 of 90
    dope_ahminedope_ahmine Posts: 228member
    But Carplay doesn’t offer a romantic fart in the glow of a fireplace.
  • Reply 3 of 90
    avon b7avon b7 Posts: 7,513member
    I don't think subscriptions are the way to go but if we are talking about infotainment, even pumping phone content to a car screen will serve most users just fine. That includes music, video, audio etc.

    Deeper car integration would necessarily mean deeper cooperation and I'm not sure third party systems are where manufacturers prefer to go (unless there is some development process with the manufacturer).

    Most car manufacturers understand that, as cars become more 'autonomous', they will also become more computerised. They will want to face the challenges of computerisation knowing that they control everything, including the tail of the dog, and not find themselves being wagged by it down the line. Some models already include mini, mobile data centers and all the necessary hardware interconnects to the car sensor systems. 

    The danger for Apple now is that their car aspirations are an open secret and that might lead to major reservations on how far automakers let CarPlay intergrate with their hardware. 

    This GM move may be an early warning sign of that. 

    It's very late in the day IMO as competing systems have been shipping for a while. It won't be easy and trying to squeeze a subscription model into the equation looks difficult to pull off (even if the first years include the subscription cost in the sale price of the car). 

    I suppose this article is mainly focused on the US market as it makes no mention of Chinese efforts which are more advanced than Android Auto and CarPlay. 


    That is with HarmonyOS 2. HarmonyOS 3 is currently shipping on cars and HarmonyOS 4 is coming later this year. 

    Europe is currently bracing itself for a massive influx of Chinese EVs and VW was reportedly negotiating with Huawei for the use of its systems in future cars.

    Barring the subscription model itself, I can see the logic behind them wanting a whole widget system, but can't help but think it's very late in the day to make it a success internationally. 
    edited May 2023 FileMakerFeller
  • Reply 4 of 90
    siretmansiretman Posts: 117member
    I don’t rent a car unless it has CarPlay. I am ready with my USB cable and all waypoints set as favorites in my Maps app. 
    The only way to go in a new city with least amount of errors and screwups. 
  • Reply 5 of 90
    twolf2919twolf2919 Posts: 96member
    I think the main reason Tesla has so far gotten away with not supporting CarPlay is that it had first mover advantage in the EV space and could sell its EVs whether they had CarPlay or not.  It's not like people who wanted a good EV had a choice.  I predict that as more capable EVs with CarPlay come on the market, Tesla will eventually be forced to support it as well.  Sure, Tesla has a bunch of its own Infotainment content that other car manufacturers don't, but it's not about the number of options, but the familiarity!  Most people I know want the familiarity of (and access to their data on) the iPhone.  They don't want to leave to learn yet another - sometimes not very user friendly - platform.  With respect to their data, they trust Apple to protect it, whereas they may not trust car manufacturers not to monetize it.

    I guess we will see how this plays out.  I completely agree that GM has lost their marbles deciding to not include it in future EVs.  No wonder Ford's CEO laughed when he heard the news.
  • Reply 6 of 90
    twolf2919twolf2919 Posts: 96member
    To be honest not many people (at least the people i know) use any form of carplay. Only recent cars have came around to it and it will probably take another 5 years for it to go mainstream when people finally upgrade their cars
    I think you and your friend group are behind the times.  CarPlay is by now offered in 800+ car models.  It's been a feature offered in many cars long before I bought my 2019 Nissan Leaf with it.  I.e. it's been 'mainstream' for at least that long.
  • Reply 7 of 90
    auxioauxio Posts: 2,707member
    JP234 said:
    Here's my personal favorite part of this story:
    "Games and video services are not available unless the vehicle is parked."

    You would hope this is true, and it is, unless you really, really want to watch movies and play games while you're driving. In that case vehicular suicide is readily available. Here's just one of thousands I found…
    I actually thought this line was bizarre:
    "Tesla charges $99 a year for its premium connectivity, but it doesn't limit people from using navigation or games."

    Games? That's the thing they chose to give for free (aside from the basics)? Most people who can afford a Tesla and have kids will likely have bought them a much better portable gaming system.
  • Reply 8 of 90
    I wouldn't buy a car unless it has wireless CarPlay. I actually own a 2011 car that I love, and recently spent £1000 having CarPlay fitted.

    I have this discussion regularly with a Tesla-owning friend, and he argues that Tesla provide all the apps you could need instead. And that would be absolutely fine, except of course they don't.

    'How do I play my music on Deezer?' I ask.

    'Oh. Well it has Spotify.'

    'Well I have Deezer.'

    'Can't you change music providers to match Elon Musk's whims?'

    'No. But I also listen to audiobooks. I assume the Audible app is good?'

    'Ah. It doesn't have that either. All you need to do in either case is just buy a phone mount that sticks to the windscreen, pair your phone with Bluetooth and generally pretend it's 2009.'

    Ah, Tesla. The least up-to-date tech in any car available today.
  • Reply 9 of 90
    sflagelsflagel Posts: 795member
    The reason Tesla gets away with it is that it integrates "reasonably" well with Apple. It has Apple Music, and syncs Contacts and Calendar, including adding a Calendar location to the Tesla navigation. I still, greatly, prefer CarPlay. Would not buy a car without it.

    Still, I do not understand why people are so enamoured with Tesla technology: the navigation interface is, frankly, as bad as Google or Apple Maps were 5 years ago, it does not even have a decent turn-by-turn; multiple drivers have to fidget around to change the source every time they get into a car, it does not connect to the available iPhone automatically; and to close an app, sometimes its a swipe, sometimes a Close button and sometimes a little "X" in the corner; and lastly, sometimes you have to scroll through a page to find the functionality, which is a totally unacceptable thing to ask a driver to do while driving.

    On the other hand, Apple's CarPlay's colours are a bit garish, I'd prefer if it changed colour schemes to adapt to the car interior.
  • Reply 10 of 90
    sirdirsirdir Posts: 171member
    Can they? I’m not considering buying a Tesla, the lack of CarPlay is one of the reasons 
  • Reply 11 of 90
    siretman said:
    I don’t rent a car unless it has CarPlay. I am ready with my USB cable and all waypoints set as favorites in my Maps app. 
    The only way to go in a new city with least amount of errors and screwups. 
    I’m the same way except that I use a wireless CarPlay adapter :-)
  • Reply 12 of 90
    omasouomasou Posts: 544member
    To be honest not many people (at least the people i know) use any form of carplay. Only recent cars have came around to it and it will probably take another 5 years for it to go mainstream when people finally upgrade their cars

    Let's rephrase this. The "people that you know" have older cars or cars that did not have Apple CarPlay/Android Auto offered.

    Apple CarPlay IS main stream in current model cars and most manufactures have migrated from wired to wireless.
  • Reply 13 of 90
    To be honest not many people (at least the people i know) use any form of carplay. Only recent cars have came around to it and it will probably take another 5 years for it to go mainstream when people finally upgrade their cars
    I don't think you can accurately represent 'many people'.

    CarPlay has been around since 2014, that's 9 years! No, not everyone has a new car, or even one less than 9 years old, but many millions of people do. I think it's probably mainstream by now.
  • Reply 14 of 90
    omasouomasou Posts: 544member
    So Tesla treats content as "channels". interesting so 70's/80's/....

    My phone is my phone, music, maps, GPS,... I can hop between 3 cars and 2 motorcycles and my music and destinations follow ME.

    Personally, I wouldn't buy a vehicle w/o Apple Wireless CarPlay or BT minimum. I plain don't have the patience to "configure" other devices including a car.

    The only other device that I "install" apps/channels on is my TV and that is only b/c the Apple TV "app" doesn't recognize the other content providers on the TV the way the Apple TV app on my computer, iPad and iPhone do. Configured once Apple TV on an Apple device can be used to search and launch content hosted by other apps on that Apple device, e.g. Disney, HBO, etc. I think this was closer to Steve Job's original vision for TV, not so much gatekeeping the content--that the content providers are afraid of--but more simplification for the end users to find and watch what they want. Today my son, uses the Internet to find out which streaming service is offering the content that he wants to watch and hopefully we subscribe to that service. Today content is fragment and too costly.
    edited May 2023 FileMakerFellerAlex_V
  • Reply 15 of 90
    y2any2an Posts: 185member
    GM and this article miss the boat. It’s about my data, not streaming audio. My phone has my life on it. Ask to take me to a friend’s house, it does without any cross-keying of data. Call a friend? Likewise. It’s the data, dummy. The data. 
  • Reply 16 of 90
    sbdudesbdude Posts: 247member
    Tesla can get away with it because no other manufacturer has the rabid (and often blind) fan base that Tesla does. One need only look at manufacturing defects, reliability and other objective measures as they relate to "satisfaction" ratings to determine that Tesla drivers often overlook the shortcomings simply because of their adulation for the brand. CarPlay is but one of the features you won't find in a Tesla compared to other brands: satellite radio, branded (premium) sound systems, a speedometer in front of the steering wheel, an external/internal refresh every 7 years or so.
  • Reply 17 of 90
    mikethemartianmikethemartian Posts: 1,265member
    It is stupid to give another company control of your product.
  • Reply 18 of 90
    techconctechconc Posts: 275member
    CarPlay support is simply table stakes at this point for any new car purchase.  Years ago, I've already walked away from a car deal simply because that manufacturer was late to support CarPlay.  I'll likely buy an EV in the future, but I don't think the infrastructure is where I expect it to be yet.  So, my next purchase will be a traditional engine... and a vehicle that supports CarPlay.  

    I think GM is being cautious about their decision though.  They're not simply dumping CarPlay from all new models.  Rather just their new EV models.  That's going to be a small percentage of their business.  They'll have time to see if that strategy is working or not.  Likely, it won't in the long run. 
  • Reply 19 of 90
    jdonAIjdonAI Posts: 11member
    sirdir said:
    Can they? I’m not considering buying a Tesla, the lack of CarPlay is one of the reasons 
    Yeah, sure, that's the reason . . .
    dave marsh
  • Reply 20 of 90
    applguyapplguy Posts: 235member
    With Tesla, it feels like the car was built around the infotainment center. It's the nucleus of the car. All other manufactures it feels like the car was designed by one group, the infotainment by another, and another group put the two together and hoped for the best. I don't miss CarPlay driving the Tesla. I can't say that driving the BMW or Honda. 
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