In a move to take smartphone usage to the next level, Apple has devised a futuristic integration of the iPhone with in-car experience. It is a new system which is titled CarPlay is intended to redefine car driving, mobile telephone and on-road culture.
Apple’s CarPlay is a mechanism that includes a console touchscreen and buttons on the steering wheel that activate Siri, Apple’s voice command system. It is designed to permit the person on the wheel to make calls, listen to voicemails, hear and dictate text messages, obtain directions via Apple Maps and access music services like Spotify and other related stuff. To materialize this, Apple has entered into partnerships and collaborations with a host of major automakers and announced the same on Monday. The initial automobiles to incorporate this feature would be Volvo, Ferrari and Mercedes-Benz, gearing up to enter the market later this year. Vehicles to make it to the road with CarPlay also include BMW, Ford, GM, Honda, Hyundai and Toyota.
Interesting as it is like to how it would be received on the roads, but major players in the auto business are lauding the idea. To cite a sample, while Ferrari termed that CarPlay “smarter, safer and more fun way to use iPhone in the car”, Volvo defined this association with Apple as something that “promises to transform the in-car experience.”
In actual operation, CarPlay users connect the iPhones to the cars to enable the system using Apple’s lightening charger. At this stage, the system is only compatible with the iPhone 5, 5C and 5S.
While it is innovative to the core, Apple is not the first company to conceive the idea. Prior to this, a bunch of similar competing companies also envisioned integration of smartphone technology into cars.
Although Greg Joswiak, Apple’s vice president of iPhone and iOS product marketing, confidently stated that CarPlay “”ets drivers use their iPhone in the car with the minimized distraction”, the fact of the matter is that the cell-phone use is one of the prime causes of “distracted driving” accidents, which killed 3,328 people and injured 421,000 in 2012, according to government statistics.
CarPlay sharply coincides with the era when a host of states have gone to the trouble of enacting laws in recent years banning texting or talking on cell phones while driving. In 2009, President Obama issued an executive order prohibiting federal employees from doing so while on the job.
The reason cell phone use is hazardous, to say the least, for drivers is primarily due to the fact that it can unconsciously force them to take their eyes off the road and their hands off the steering wheel. But the National Safety Council warns that even hands-free cell phone use can significantly increase the potential for accidents.
Therefore, it remains to be seen how Apple, a company known for ingenious branding, launches CarPlay that has implications of safety. It will also be the litmus test of user wisdom as to whether smartphone users are equipped to make smarter choices.