Rail goes hereApple is getting ready to hitch the iPhone to cars in a mobile marriage of convenience. The ambitious project, called CarPlay, implants some of the iPhone's main applications in automobiles so drivers can control them with voice commands, a touch on the steering wheel or a swipe on a display screen in the dashboard.
It's expected to be available this summer when
I recently checked out a test version of CarPlay in a van equipped with a Pioneer radio designed to work with the iPhone.
The demonstration through the streets of
It makes less sense for iPhone owners who, like me, spend more of their time walking and riding public transportation instead of driving.
If you want CarPlay, you will need an iPhone 5, 5s or 5c. An iPad won't work. The phones also must be running
If you have one of Pioneer's five compatible radios, a free firmware update is all you'll need.
Otherwise, CarPlay's biggest drawback is the cost. If you want it in a car you own, compatible radios from Pioneer sell for
That's more than the price of a new iPhone, but cheaper than buying a new car with CarPlay built in.
Pioneer's top-of-the-line CarPlay radio features a 7-inch screen that shows the iPhone apps for calls, contacts, music, maps and messaging when the device is plugged in with a cable.
Other mobile music apps, including Spotify, Beats Music and iHeartRadio, are supposed to be available on CarPlay, too.
The key to CarPlay's success might hinge on Siri, the iPhone's digital personal assistant.
Siri serves as CarPlay's central nervous system, doing everything from taking email dictation, reading incoming text messages out load, and scrolling through the system for song requests or different genres of music.
Summoning Siri can be done by touching a button on the steering wheel or CarPlay's display screen.
While CarPlay also responds to touch, the system is at its best when Siri is doing most of the work. I got only a half-hour demo of CarPlay, too little time to determine whether Siri will be up to the job.
Within minutes of getting in the car, Siri couldn't retrieve the correct address for a requested restaurant in
Beyond that, Siri performed flawlessly reading back incoming texts, composing and sending emails and playing the role of disc jockey when asked to play the music of specific artists such as AC/ DC. It took only a few seconds before "Back in Black" blasted through the stereo.
Even a question about
If Siri is able to consistently handle those kinds of challenges, then CarPlay could make the iPhone an even more indispensable mobile device.
Rail goes hereApple is getting ready to hitch the iPhone to cars in a mobile marriage of convenience.
The ambitious project, called CarPlay, implants some of the iPhone's main applications in automobiles so drivers can control them with voice commands, a touch on the steering wheel or a swipe on a display screen in the dashboard.