GM's CarPlay replacement doesn't work well, and has a long road ahead of it

Posted:
in iOS

GM's decision to move away from CarPlay was to avoid Apple having too much control over vehicles. It's going to be a bumpy ride for consumers.

GM's Ultifi interface
GM's Ultifi interface



In March 2023, GM decided to stop providing CarPlay and Android Auto to consumers, in favor of using its own system. With CarPlay increasing its hooks into the systems of vehicles, it was too much for GM to stomach.

GM's response was to make its own interface, starting with the 2024 Chevrolet Blazer. At first glance, it seems the effort has teething issues.

In one example recounted by Bloomberg, customer Michael Waldron picked up his SUV in November. It used GM's Ultifi platform, an infotainment system that did away with CarPlay in favor of GM's own vision.

There was a problem, in that in cutting off Apple's access to in-car systems, GM's interface had the opposite problem. While CarPlay offered access to many services and apps on a connected iPhone, Ultifi couldn't offer the same level of information.

This included limiting how users could access new messages over Bluetooth. Waldron couldn't ask Siri for directions to a location, forcing him instead to go via Google Maps.

A lack of Apple Music and Podcast apps also irked the family. While Ultifi had all of the key elements in place as an in-car interface, it lacked access to the iPhone.

The Waldron family also discovered major stability problems, with app crashes before the system bricked itself. Settings couldn't be changed for the 600-mile Thanksgiving journey, leaving them stuck on Sirius XM's 1990's radio channel.

Like others, the family were soon without their vehicle for a month as the dealership worked to fix the issues.

GM halted sales of the car from December until it could fix the issues.

A problematic solution



The entire situation was an attempt by GM to create its own software team to make a better dashboard experience than CarPlay. One that it could control directly, and potentially capitalize on instead of relying on Apple's software.

Apple was a threat to become "the iOS of the vehicle," said GM SVP of strategy and innovation Alan Wexler. "It's a physical vehicle, but it's an iPhone you're driving."

GM was fine with CarPlay offering entertainment, but balked at Apple's intention to control more of a vehicle's functions. Achieving that would mean Apple had more control over how GM could earn digital revenue from its customers.

In Ultifi's construction, GM nmade a system to have more control over the vehicle. An interface that provided speed and mileage data, handled the EV's battery life, and even internal lighting.

"The minute you decide to Balkanize and outsource those pieces, you cannot create those kinds of experiences," GM software and services group head Baris Cetinok offered. Cetinok previously work on iCloud and Wallet for Apple.

To GM, the software is a potential big earner for the company. It reckons that digital services could produce up to $25 billion in revenue per year by 2030, which it would prefer to have than hand over to Apple.

Following the preview of CarPlay's future by Apple, car companies were pressed into action, with GM hiring employees away from tech giants to produce its own system.

However it was not prepared for the initial teething issues it faced, both from customers and from trade reviews.

After stopping sales of the Blazer, GM executives spent weeks working to diagnose the issues and fix them.

Part of the issue was GM's need to have five different groups managing different areas of the vehicle's technology. That has since changed to a centralized review system to prevent issues.

Even after creating fixes, they weren't distributed until March. Consumers also said that updates involved dealership workers downloading the software to thumb drives, in processes taking up to eight hours.

By contrast, Apple's CarPlay updates are relatively rapid, included as part of iOS updates.

A tough sell



Despite the issues, the $25 billion carrot is still attractive enough for GM to continue.

Chevy product marketing director Darin Gesse explained that Ultifi will be difficult to sell to "hardcore Apple users," but component-integrated features will win out in the end.

Part of the problem Geese refers to is the sheer popularity of CarPlay.

In 2022, Apple said 79% of US car buyers would only consider buying cars that were compatible with CarPlay. Rivian also performed similar research at around the same time, finding that 70% of its customers wanted CarPlay access.

Rivian worked to make its interface more useful, such as giving letter grades to EV charging stations. The initiative worked to reduce the figure, with only 30% of its customers now wanting CarPlay.

GM seemingly hopes to break customer dependency on CarPlay in the same way. All by making the software more useful to the driver by integrating it more deeply.

In GM's vision, that means things like mapping systems tapping other data points of the vehicle. While a driver may ask for directions, they will also get predictions of battery capacity and a route that passes by charging stations.

This would be useful for drivers, along with other features that could aid the driving experience beyond what CarPlay is capable of doing. But GM still has a long way to go before it can break the CarPlay dependency completely.



Read on AppleInsider

«13

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 46
    GM is not the only one. Mercedes Benz officially confirmed that CarPlay will not be supported for next models.

    The reason of Mercedes is that Apple wants to strive for "All or Nothign" strategy. 
    Mercedes Benz would have no issue to have CarPlay as long as basic features can be played by Apple, but Mercedes Benz is not willing to give up the entire control to Apple.

    I fear that more and more OEMs would follow GM´s and MB´s decision not to support Apple CarPlay if Apple continues sticking to their "All or Nothing" strategy.

    But Having driven EQS, I have to say that MB is way way behind in the UI/UX area. 
    MB tries hard to present their cars as a modern technology, but it feels old somehow. 

    Nothing can top the simplified UI/UX made by Apple. 
    watto_cobraravnorodomAlex1Njony0
  • Reply 2 of 46
    jellyapplejellyapple Posts: 116member
    “In favour of its own system”? Its own system from China?
    igorskywatto_cobrawilliamlondonlolliverAlex1Nzeus423jony0
  • Reply 3 of 46
    flydogflydog Posts: 1,132member
    GM is not the only one. Mercedes Benz officially confirmed that CarPlay will not be supported for next models.

    The reason of Mercedes is that Apple wants to strive for "All or Nothign" strategy. 
    Mercedes Benz would have no issue to have CarPlay as long as basic features can be played by Apple, but Mercedes Benz is not willing to give up the entire control to Apple.

    I fear that more and more OEMs would follow GM´s and MB´s decision not to support Apple CarPlay if Apple continues sticking to their "All or Nothing" strategy.

    But Having driven EQS, I have to say that MB is way way behind in the UI/UX area. 
    MB tries hard to present their cars as a modern technology, but it feels old somehow. 

    Nothing can top the simplified UI/UX made by Apple. 
    No. Mercedes Benz did not confirm "that CarPlay will not be supported for next models."  What Mercedes will not be supporting is next gen CarPlay.

    https://www.theverge.com/2024/4/29/24144356/mercedes-benz-ceo-apple-carplay-next-gen-decoder
    igorskyappleinsideruserwatto_cobraravnorodomAlex1Nzeus423entropysMacProjony0
  • Reply 4 of 46
    jimh2jimh2 Posts: 642member
    Darin Gesse is straight up out of his mind, but that is ok for me as I would never buy a GM or any American car (nor a Mercedes). Trying to justify this by saying only hard-core Apple users will be affected is absurd, but one can dream and justify their existence as a company. 

    To a degree I feel sorry for them they have decided to pigeon hole themselves into something that has no chance of working. Check with Toyota and other late adopters how well that went for them. Additionally people know the interface as it is in nearly every car made. It is as if they want to sell fewer cars.
    igorskywatto_cobrawilliamlondonlolliverAlex1Nzeus423jony0
  • Reply 5 of 46
    avon b7avon b7 Posts: 7,897member
    "GM was fine with CarPlay offering entertainment, but balked at Apple's intention to control more of a vehicle's functions. Achieving that would mean Apple had more control over how GM could earn digital revenue from its customers."

    An absolutely perfect and understandable stance to have, especially if they want to monetise certain areas of the software side.

    Bring your phone by all means but the car is the car and is a product of the manufacturer. The phone system shouldn't act as a monetary vampire as soon as you plug it in.

    I can see why OEMs are reluctant here. Unless that is they have a collaborative agreement where everything is laid out and represents a win/win for both parties.

    There will always be teething problems but I thought that was where Google was supposed to be jumping onboard for future efforts. 
    Alex1N
  • Reply 6 of 46
    jimh2jimh2 Posts: 642member
    Another point is people will be bamboozled into buying a car with Ultifi (sad attempt to ride on the coattails of Unifi) by a salesmen implying it is better than CarPlay with all of the same functionality and it will work perfectly. Worse will be the salesman who does not even know what CarPlay is or misleads the buyer into thinking it is CarPlay. I am referring to regular users of the iPhone who have no interest other than it working. 
    watto_cobrawilliamlondonlolliverAlex1N
  • Reply 7 of 46
    vztrv1vztrv1 Posts: 20member
    It will certainly discourage me from buying GM.  I avoided Toyota until they finally gave up and opened CarPlay and Android Auto (which is also in this mix).  The functionality of having maps remember my lookup or next calendar item and having my content on screen is a non negotiable now.  It’s sad to read this as my first CarPlay experience was on a GM rental.  I suspect they will get to repeat Toyotas poor experience with entine.  I can only hope that some sort of agreement can be reached between Apple and the manufacturers now that Apple has finally ditched the car project.
    watto_cobrawilliamlondonAlex1Nzeus423
  • Reply 8 of 46
    charlesncharlesn Posts: 944member
    GM has already shown it cannot be trusted with the data collection possible in its new system. The Wall Street Journal recently reported that GM drivers around the country were finding themselves hit with inexplicable, sharp spikes in their auto insurance premiums. The reason? The onboard computers in their GM cars had been tracking and collecting data on their driving habits--speeds driven, hard-braking events, overly sharp turns, etc.--then secretly transmitting that data back to GM via the OnStar connection, and GM sold it to insurance companies. The WSJ's lead tech reporter also documented how difficult it was to opt out of having the data collected--that permission for GM to collect and sell it is buried in the pages of paperwork you sign when buying the car. Supposedly--but only now that it has been caught--GM claims it has ended the practice, but how can you believe a company so willing to cross such an egregious line in the first place? This also does little to help all the GM drivers saddled with increased insurance rates for years because their car was spying on them. And this abuse of customer privacy pre-dates the new Ultifi system, which provides a whole slew of new opportunities for the collection and sale of data about GM customers. NO THANK YOU. 
    aderutterforegoneconclusionkiltedgreengadgetfreak-applebadmonkwatto_cobrawilliamlondonlolliverMplsPAlex1N
  • Reply 9 of 46
    DAalsethDAalseth Posts: 2,864member
    To GM, the software is a potential big earner for the company. It reckons that digital services could produce up to $25 billion in revenue per year
    For me that’s the deal breaker right there. They want to sell me a subscription along with their car. No, I am not signing up to a subscription just so I can use the features in my car. I stopped even looking at GM when OnStar came out, and this is even worse. If I need roadside assistance or a map, that’s what my phone is for. I don’t need another service, another monthly bill, to get the same thing. 
    webweaselauxiowatto_cobrawilliamlondonAlex1N
  • Reply 10 of 46
    stompystompy Posts: 409member
    This line is preposterous: "Apple was a threat to become "the iOS of the vehicle," said GM SVP of strategy and innovation Alan Wexler. "It's a physical vehicle, but it's an iPhone you're driving." 

    This is all about increasing revenue. A former coworker left to join GM's in car dev team. Anything I've ever heard about it points to one reason: money.
    dewmewatto_cobralolliverAlex1N
  • Reply 11 of 46
    mikethemartianmikethemartian Posts: 1,428member
    Giving another company control over your product is a mistake.
    williamlondon
  • Reply 12 of 46
    emoelleremoeller Posts: 579member
    I've had Toyota's for years, and have been very happy with them.  But a few years ago they demanded all Toyota's must use their software and they refused to allow CarPlay.  I pleaded with my dealership and even wrote to the President of Toyota, NA - all to no avail.  I vowed to never buy Toyota vehicles again (despite that they now do have CarPlay).

    The last of my Toyota's will go in the next couple of weeks, and I won't be purchasing any more in the future. 

    Companies that do not listen to their customers will lose their customers.
    watto_cobralolliverAlex1Nzeus423vztrv1jony0
  • Reply 13 of 46
    webweaselwebweasel Posts: 138member
    DAalseth said:
    To GM, the software is a potential big earner for the company. It reckons that digital services could produce up to $25 billion in revenue per year
    For me that’s the deal breaker right there. They want to sell me a subscription along with their car. No, I am not signing up to a subscription just so I can use the features in my car. I stopped even looking at GM when OnStar came out, and this is even worse. If I need roadside assistance or a map, that’s what my phone is for. I don’t need another service, another monthly bill, to get the same thing. 
    Exactly. And that’s the only way they could achieve that ludicrous figure of $25bn anyway. They won’t be ‘losing’ that revenue to Apple, they just want to sell additional services that by and large people already have on their phones!
    watto_cobralolliverAlex1Nzeus423
  • Reply 14 of 46
    robin huberrobin huber Posts: 3,993member
    Their decision is already paying benefits, to Hyundai. We love our 2022 Chevy Bolt EV (with CarPlay). When the time came to replace our other ICE vehicle last month we didn’t even bother to look at GM choices. Love our new Tucson PHEV for longer trips!
    watto_cobralolliverAlex1Nzeus423
  • Reply 15 of 46
    auxioauxio Posts: 2,746member
    DAalseth said:
    To GM, the software is a potential big earner for the company. It reckons that digital services could produce up to $25 billion in revenue per year
    For me that’s the deal breaker right there. They want to sell me a subscription along with their car. No, I am not signing up to a subscription just so I can use the features in my car. I stopped even looking at GM when OnStar came out, and this is even worse. If I need roadside assistance or a map, that’s what my phone is for. I don’t need another service, another monthly bill, to get the same thing. 
    This.

    I remember how great it was when cars changed from using the terrible, half-baked, home-grown infotainment systems to CarPlay/Android Auto. Suddenly you didn't have to pay just to get map updates every year, subscribe to services like SiriusXM or OnStar, or install a whole new system every 5 years to get access to new services. Now they want us to go back to that era again? And pay for the privilege while they make money from harvesting data? GTFO
    edited May 1 ecarlseenwatto_cobralolliverAlex1Nzeus423entropysMacProkingofsomewherehotjony0
  • Reply 16 of 46
    flydog said:
    GM is not the only one. Mercedes Benz officially confirmed that CarPlay will not be supported for next models.

    The reason of Mercedes is that Apple wants to strive for "All or Nothign" strategy. 
    Mercedes Benz would have no issue to have CarPlay as long as basic features can be played by Apple, but Mercedes Benz is not willing to give up the entire control to Apple.

    I fear that more and more OEMs would follow GM´s and MB´s decision not to support Apple CarPlay if Apple continues sticking to their "All or Nothing" strategy.

    But Having driven EQS, I have to say that MB is way way behind in the UI/UX area. 
    MB tries hard to present their cars as a modern technology, but it feels old somehow. 

    Nothing can top the simplified UI/UX made by Apple. 
    No. Mercedes Benz did not confirm "that CarPlay will not be supported for next models."  What Mercedes will not be supporting is next gen CarPlay.

    https://www.theverge.com/2024/4/29/24144356/mercedes-benz-ceo-apple-carplay-next-gen-decoder
    My bad. You are right. 

    But Apple may face a critical momentum in the automotive area to lose their relevance.
    Apple is a premium brand. I think Apple needs MB or BMW as a partner. 
    ecarlseenwatto_cobraAlex1Nentropys
  • Reply 17 of 46

    I don’t get what GM is trying to monetize… access to your own dashboard? …digital surveillance data? …popup ads? That’s all a no-go for me.

    watto_cobralolliverAlex1Nzeus423
  • Reply 18 of 46
    auxioauxio Posts: 2,746member

    I don’t get what GM is trying to monetize… access to your own dashboard? …digital surveillance data? …popup ads? That’s all a no-go for me.

    All of the data about what you do while you're driving your car, plus a lot of what's on your phone while it's connected.
    ecarlseenwatto_cobralolliverAlex1Nzeus423entropysjony0
  • Reply 19 of 46
    charlesncharlesn Posts: 944member

    I don’t get what GM is trying to monetize… access to your own dashboard? …digital surveillance data? …popup ads? That’s all a no-go for me.

    1) GM wants to sell you subscriptions for convenience features you now get free with CarPlay

    2) GM gets to collect and sell data on virtually every decision you make in a car--entertainment choices, destinations, places you stop along the way, your driving habits. the brand of gas you buy, etc. etc. with egregious EULAs that will force you to choose between convenience features you want or keeping your data private. 

    3) GM can also monetize its position as gatekeeper for advertisers to reach you in-car. For example, GM could offer to fast-food chains the ability to target drivers in their cars who frequently stop at fast-food restaurants. 

    Honestly, I don't see how this is successful because I am one of many people I know who will not even consider a GM car any longer because of these policies and (especially) the lack of CarPlay support. 
    edited May 1 ecarlseenchasmwatto_cobralolliverAlex1Nzeus423DGDMNMacPro
  • Reply 20 of 46
    teejay2012teejay2012 Posts: 398member
    There is an irony here for Apple as the world forces it to be open to alt stores and apps, the argument being that the phone belongs to its owner, and they should have complete access. Whether that is true or fair aside, you would think that you should be given choices for the interface in your new $60,000 EV. Choices are a selling feature. Of course you could argue that you could just buy another car, but then using the arguments thrown at Apple, GM has a 100% monopoly .. on GM cars LOL. My car is too old to have had CarPlay, but I am envious whenever I see it on other cars.
    fizzmasterstudiomusicwatto_cobralolliverAlex1Npaisleydisco
Sign In or Register to comment.