GM has been taking a lot of criticism and ridicule with their announcement this week that it’s planning to drop Apple CarPlay and Android Auto from its electric vehicles beginning with some 2024 models. As a reminder, CarPlay and Auto allow you to access many of your phone’s apps on the car’s display while driving. Both are similar, one working with the iPhone and the other with Android phones.
They allow you to use apps such as Google Maps, Waze, Apple Maps, Apple Music, Pandora, Spotify, Amazon Music, Qobuz, Audible, and many more. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are hugely popular and are cited by many as the number one reason for buying a new car. In fact, Apple says 98% of new cars in the U.S. come with CarPlay installed and found that 79% of U.S. buyers would only buy a car if it supported CarPlay.
CarPlay and Auto build upon the popularity of smartphones and have revolutionized in-car audio entertainment and navigation. Insteady of paying $2000 for the manufacturer’s navigations system and paying hundreds to update the maps each year, Google Maps, Waze, and Apple Maps provide a much better experience for free, while always providing up to date information.
The beauty of this feature is that your car reflects what’s on your phone so you can listen to your own music and playlists, your podcasts. and your audio books, and never need to reconfigure your car seperately. It’s a seamless experience between your phone and car.
What’s behind GM’s move?
It’s primarily greed. GM is eyeing an opportunity to generate new revenue from selling apps, subscriptions, and services using their own in-car system. Their CEO predicts it will add $20 billion in new revenue. Their own app will give them more of our personal information, allow them to track us, and share that information with advertisers. Many still remember what the cellular companies did before the iPhone came along. They charged exhorbitant fees for sending a photo, delivering a text message or making a call. They held you captive for what you could do with your phone. Now GM wants to do much the same with your car.
GM says that they would actually improve user experience by combining car functions on the screen to create one common interface that manages many of your cars controls and functions.
“We believe a simple, seamless and built-in experience that integrates basic infotainment features with key vehicle systems is the best path forward,” GM spokesperson Anna Yu told Motor Authority. “Requiring our customers to navigate in and out of different solutions and go back and forth for different needs is not seamless.”
But it takes a lot of hubris to think they’ll be able to create a comparable user experience with the breadth and depth of what we have now. Auto companies have tried in the past and have failed miserably. Everyone wants to be an Apple but no company has succeeded and GM will not be the first. They are getting some help from Google, much as Volvo has, but Volvo has also retained CarPlay and Auto.
Reaction has been swift and negative, as in this response from 9to5mac.com:
This is an incredibly lame and sucky decision for a number of different reasons. GM is essentially dropping CarPlay because it wants to find new ways to charge customers a recurring subscription and new ways to collect data on driving habits. It’s a bad decision that I think the company will ultimately regret.
Look at a company like Tesla, for example. Tesla also refuses to adopt Apple’s CarPlay platform, and it’s one of the commonly requested features by Tesla owners. And that’s despite the fact that Tesla has spent years refining its own in-car software experience.
Apple is about to launch a new version of CarPlay sometime later this year that features an all-new design to take over more of a car’s infotainment system, including gauge clusters and other data. I guess we can now add GM to the “no” column on this one.
My guess is GM will move slowly and may even change their mind. Most of the other manufacturers have responded to GM’s announcement by doubling down on their support for the continuing use of CarPlay and Auto.