Apple CarPlay and Android Auto mobile device interfaces for car infotainment systems are being integrated into new models of Ford and Fiat Chrysler vehicles.
Both car makers revealed at CES 2016 in Las Vegas that they are giving their cars easy access to a software layer that allows smartphone apps from Apple and Google to be used with car entertainment and information units.
Ford will be adding CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility into its Sync 3 infotainment system, currently based on BlackBerry's QNX infotainment software platform, in all its 2017 models, while also be offering owners of 2016 cars the option to upgrade their current Sync 3 system.
The software layer will give drivers access to smartphone apps such as Spotify, and voice-based messaging and navigation services from Apple and Google Maps.
Don Butler, executive director of Ford's connected vehicles and services division, claimed that CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility with Sync allows customers to stay connected to mobile devices when at the wheel.
"Sync allows customers to bring the smartphone technology they're comfortable with into a vehicle and use it without hassle," he said.
Fiat Chrysler revealed the latest version of its infotainment system, Uconnect 8.4 NAV, will also have compatibility with Android Auto and CarPlay, giving drivers with iPhones access to the Siri virtual assistant while behind the wheel, and offering motorists in the Android camp access to Google Music and Google Maps, along with other features found on both mobile platforms such as messaging.
CarPlay and Android Auto have been touted as new ways to connect smartphones and tablets to car infotainment systems, but they have yet to make it into a significant number of vehicles, relying on aftermarket systems to add compatibility or, in the case of CarPlay, being found in highly expensive luxury cars such as the Ferrari FF.
Given both Ford and Fiat Chrysler are makers of vehicles for mass global markets, adding CarPlay (pictured below) and Android Auto compatibility into their infotainment systems should see the software reaching millions of drivers who use iOS and Android smartphones and tablets.
However, some drivers many not want to use iOS or Android interfaces with their car's infotainment system, so Ford has announced new apps for its AppLink feature which is similar to CarPlay and Android Auto and enables Sync 3 to link to smartphone apps.
New app compatibility includes expense tracking service Concur, which should make recording mileage an easier process, and Eventseeker and CitySeeker, which use a car's location to serve recommendations for events, restaurants and attractions.
Ford is also bolstering the capabilities of AppLink to allow developers to create apps than can readily link with vehicle navigation systems to enable their use without requiring a driver to handle a smartphone.
Car makers are increasingly looking to make more use of high-level IT services and consumer-grade technologies to enable cars to have access to similar levels of technology that consumers use at home and at work.
Ford is very keen to push ahead with its technology use, as evidenced by its use of Microsoft's Azure cloud platform to push updates to Sync 3 on a global scale.
Butler told V3 in 2015 that the cloud is going to play a major part in Ford's future, and that the car maker will produce vehicles with even more connectivity options and features in the near future.
"I can't predict what the future is going to be, which is why I'm trying to put as much of it as I can in the cloud," said Butler. "Cloud will enable us to dynamically adjust and adapt the capability of Sync within the vehicle depending on the current driving condition or experience."
CES is often used to showcase some of the latest car technology and innovations, and last year's clutch of major automotive brands stole the Las Vegas show with driverless car systems.
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