Apple kicked off WWDC right this moment with a take a look at iOS 16, an replace that guarantees to carry an entire lot of Android’s customizability to iPhones. Almost the entire options introduced in right this moment’s keynote — from that fancy new lock display to that candy drag-and-drop function we’re begging Google to repeat — will arrive this fall. That mentioned, one factor teased right this moment that can decidedly notice arrive within the coming months — and even this 12 months — is the next-gen model of CarPlay, a instrument that appears to rival Android Automotive as tech corporations duel it out for the destiny of your subsequent automotive.

At the moment, Google affords two very completely different in-car experiences for drivers, although you are doubtless solely conversant in one. Android Auto is what seems in your in-display dashboard when linked to your automotive, displaying apps, navigation, music, and extra. Usually talking, it is the proper roadside companion — however it will probably solely talk together with your automotive a lot.


Android Automotive is a whole working system constructed off of Android — it even will get its personal OS upgrades. Automotive is supposed for carmakers like GM, Ford, and Polestar to energy your complete car. That features your speedometer and different gauges, tire strain, and local weather management, all along with the identical fundamental navigation and media controls offered by Auto. Principally, Automotive is supposed to interchange the rubbish software program automobiles are often working, providing a manufacturer-customized expertise with the entire Google bells and whistles constructed proper in.

Automotive is nothing new — it has been round in some kind for over 5 years now. And but, speaking about it routinely requires an evidence just like the one above, as a result of Google has but to get severe about its onboard car OS. Regardless of what number of companions it publicizes, irrespective of what number of automobiles are rumored to help the undertaking, Google continues to let Automotive languish as a facet undertaking, constructed for automotive producers at first and by no means actually moving into the arms of customers in a mainstream method.

In concept, Google has loads of companions lined as much as help Automotive, together with GM, Ford (ultimately), and Honda. These are some large gamers, and with automobiles just like the 2022 GMC Sierra and its sibling truck, Chevy’s 2022 Silverado, we’re lastly seeing the OS really hit the streets with vehicles regular customers are shopping for — no offense, Polestar. That ought to show Google has a large lead on this area, but I am unable to assist however really feel like Apple’s lining as much as eat Automotive’s lunch right here.

This next-gen model of CarPlay is a great distance off — Apple’s web site says car bulletins are coming in late 2023, suggesting it will not launch for customers till 2024 mannequin 12 months automobiles arrive. That mentioned, right this moment’s teaser was equal elements promising and intriguing. Apple confirmed an interface that functioned very similar to Android Automotive, speaking straight together with your automotive’s devices to collect info on the present standing of your car. Speedometer, odometer, how a lot gasoline is in your tank — it is all right here.

4 customized appears to be like for Apple’s next-gen CarPlay.

However in contrast to the manufacturer-first platform Google constructed with Automotive, Apple is highlighting the driving force right here at first. Rewatch Apple’s announcement right this moment, and you may discover the language is all centered across the driver.

“We’re additionally excited to provide the capacity to make the core of the driving expertise distinctive to you. We rigorously crafted instrument cluster choices starting from the trendy to the normal that use completely different colours, dial remedies, backgrounds, and layouts, that present completely different appears to be like and feels.”

In an surprising twist, this model of CarPlay feels extra in keeping with how we sometimes take into consideration Android. It is open to customization and personalization — it is even acquired widgets unfold all through the UI that sync together with your apps and accounts. It is a far cry from the boring and mechanical really feel introduced on by many variations of Automotive, really presenting itself with a way of character and cohesion. Compared, simply take a look at how Google’s icons for Maps and Assistant conflict with the remainder of GMC’s expertise.

That is Android Automotive, however you’d by no means understand it by taking a look at it.

In reality, a fast take a look at GMC and Chevy’s web sites for his or her respective Automotive-supported automobiles reveal some severe flaws with Google’s plan. Not solely has the UI been custom-made to hell — the 2 corporations even use barely completely different icons, regardless of their shared father or mother firm — however in GMC’s case, the primary picture showcasing Android Automotive is not highlighting Assistant or Maps, however CarPlay. In a window, surrounded by gaudy icons laid on high of Android, is Apple’s vibrant and glossy car-friendly UI.

These icons are like a third-party pack you are unable to alter.

Except Google makes some main adjustments to the way it’s growing and advertising Android Automotive — making it for the buyer greater than the carmakers — I am simply unsure how the corporate will preserve a foothold on this market. Apple’s next-gen CarPlay appears to require an iPhone to run, because the automotive and the driving force’s system talk between one another, which does give Google some leverage right here. Each driver, whether or not they’re utilizing iOS or Android, can work together with Automotive if it is of their automotive. However compared to CarPlay, one thing closely featured on the web sites of each supported automaker around the globe, none of the present Automotive shoppers appear intent on uttering the phrase “Android.” A few obscure references to Assistant apart, this software program could possibly be developed by anybody.

Google has a large head begin right here — once more, we’re speaking about automobiles which might be, naked minimal, two years down the highway. However CarPlay is able the place iPhone homeowners perceive precisely what it’s. Extending its attain to incorporate the entire different points of your automotive will not be a tough adjustment to make. If Google desires to change into the default method individuals work together with their automobiles — and never simply an OEM for automotive producers — it must rethink its technique for Automotive going ahead. In any other case, it is simply going to change into the splash display iPhone homeowners see earlier than CarPlay takes management for good.