Since last summer, we've been waiting for the debut of Apple's in-dash operating system, iOS in the Car. Images of the service in action finally leaked to the web in January, and now Apple tells us that we'll get our first official glimpse of iOS in the Car -- renamed "CarPlay" -- this week at the Geneva Auto Show.
As expected, CarPlay will rely heavily on Apple's well-known mobile assistant, Siri, which can be activated by touching a button on the steering wheels of vehicles equipped with CarPlay. Presumably, users will also be able to activate Siri by pressing the iPhone's home button, but that would defeat some of the thinking behind CarPlay, which is designed to keep users' attention on the road and prevent them from fumbling with mobile devices.
Once an iPhone is synced with CarPlay, a driver can use Siri for a variety of tasks. That includes music, of course: via CarPlay, Siri can access all tracks and playlists on an iPhone and can also use third-party apps like Spotify. Siri can also read text messages, take dictation for outgoing messages, play voicemails, and help a user make calls, without the driver taking her eyes off the road.
But where CarPlay really shines -- at least on paper -- is in the navigation department. From the Apple press release:
"CarPlay makes driving directions more intuitive by working with Maps to anticipate destinations based on recent trips via contacts, emails or texts, and provides routing instructions, traffic conditions and ETA. You can also simply ask Siri and receive spoken turn-by-turn directions, along with Maps, which will appear on your car’s built-in display. "
Apple says that CarPlay will debut on Ferrari, Mercedes-Benz, and Volvo at this week's Geneva Auto Show. However, a host of others are working to bring CarPlay to their dashboards "down the road", including BMW, Ford, General Motors, Honda, Hyundai, Jaguar, Land Rover, Kia, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Subaru, and Toyota. (And maybe Tesla, too?)
Over the past century, the automobile has been transformed. We're not just talking about the mechanics in our cars -- the engines, the powertrains, the safety systems. We're talking about the way that people think about their vehicles.
Early in the 20th century, cars were novelties. Then, luxuries, and eventually, conveniences. By mid-century, they were the American Dream, made manifest in sheet metal.
Then came the 1970s and the oil crisis. Cars became gas-sucking scourges, necessary evils. Before long, they were linked to global warming. At the turn of the 21st century, as more of Planet Earth's population shifted to cities, many people began realizing they could do without cars -- or at least without owning one.
As we discussed last week, the car isn't ready to die, but our relationship with the car is clearly changing. CarPlay seems like a symptom of that change: it shows that, the car has become less a separate living environment and more an extension of our home (and ourselves).
Cars were once a no-man's-land, a place of transition, a place where you couldn't be reached. Now, thanks to CarPlay and its competitors, we can (or must) remain connected to friends, family, and co-workers, even when we're traveling down deserted stretches of highway. In short, cars are the third wheel in an evolving menage a trois that was once just an odd couple known as Home and Office.
...And that's about all the philosophizing we can manage on a Monday. If you have more deep thoughts, share them below -- and be sure to follow our updates from the Geneva Auto Show for news about CarPlay and much, much more.