A German automaker gets the tech first, but the solution should be available from other Harman clients eventually.
Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are the among the most useful infotainment technologies on the market by making the process simple for drivers to mirror their smartphone on a vehicle’s display. If there’s any hassle, it’s the requirement to physically plug in the device, and now Harman is even removing that minor inconvenience. Through a combination of wi-fi and Bluetooth, customers can soon pair their iPhone wirelessly with CarPlay for the first time.
At the moment, Harman’s connectivity solution isn’t yet on the market, and the firm's promotional image clearly demonstrates the system in a BMW. The company promises the tech will be “available through select OEMs,” and the tech will arrive first from a yet-unnamed “luxury German automaker.”
When asked about the German firm getting the components, a Harman spokesperson Darrin Shewchuk told Motor1, “Unfortunately, we are not able to share any specific customer names.” The company supplies infotainment systems to a wide variety of automakers including Volkswagen Group, Daimler, and BMW.
Once connected, the wireless CarPlay pairing works just like the current system. Drivers can still use their phone, play music, control navigation, and open mobile office apps. Voice recognition continues to function, too.
Motor1 also asked Harman about whether the company could update existing hardware with wireless CarPlay connectivity, but we haven’t yet received a response. Owners have been able to get updates for the tech in the past. For example, Hyundai and Kia were able to add CarPlay functionality to some of their vehicles by letting owners download the new software on a USB stick or SD card.
A study in 2016 by J.D. Power and Associates showed that drivers generally preferred using navigation from their phones rather than automakers’ built-in tech. The people reported the user interface on the mobile device was simply easier to navigate. A vice president at the company predicted that CarPlay and Android Auto could be a solution to owners’ annoyances with automakers’ infotainment units.
A patent published late in 2016 suggested that Apple has turned its attention towards bringing augmented reality into cars. The tech would display navigation data and points of interest on an iPhone, and CarPlay could conceivably interface with the vehicle to display the info on the dashboard. A connection like Harman's innovation could simplify the process even more by removing the need for any wires.