The star of the show in New York this week is not one you’d expect, but one which you already know very well. Apple and its CarPlay interface are featured in most, if not all, the new models on display at the show.
In the meantime, it seems as though Google has lost its flavour-of-the-month appeal, Android Auto being mentioned less than it used to. In fact, Amazon is the new rising star, with its Alexa voice-command interface appearing on some new cars and SUVs.
2019 Toyota RAV4
Toyota’s all-new RAV4 SUV embodies this more than any other vehicle. These past years, Toyota has led the charge against Apple and Google with its Entune infotainment system, saying the two tech giants were asking for too much data regarding drivers’ behaviour.
The third-generation Entune system aboard the 2019 Toyota RAV4 changes that. Its interface still relies on Linux, a competitor to software developed by Apple, Google and even QNX (BlackBerry), but it now integrates Apple’s CarPlay interface, as well as Alexa.
This is major news for Cupertino, especially, since the RAV4 is the best-selling vehicle in the U.S. right now (pickup trucks excluded), with 400,000 units sold last year.
2019 Nissan Altima
Nissan hopes it can set itself apart from its competitors with an all-wheel-drive 2019 Altima sedan. This feature usually associated with luxury cars could attract buyers initially looking for an SUV, but preferring the sedan format.
Nissan also upgraded its NissanConnect system, and it’s about time. The older version lacked features and apps most other models on the market now offer. This newer version will not feature all the apps you’d find on a smartphone, which probably explains why Apple CarPlay and Android Auto will end up being very popular aboard this vehicle when it goes on sale next fall.
2019 Honda Insight
The U.S. market does not like hatchback sedans, the saying goes. Honda took note and is now offering a four-door version of the Insight hybrid compact sedan. This car looks way more traditional than the technologically-packed Clarity does, which also translates into a more conservative interior design.
Inside, the new touchscreen display integrates Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, which is not new in itself aboard Honda vehicles, but which seems more natural in this setup. Could this be the beginning of the end for Honda’s twin—and sometimes triple—display interface Honda uses in other products?
2019 Mercedes-Benz C-Class
Thanks to AMG, the luxury carmaker unveiled more potent versions of its C-Class sedan in New York. These will definitely please drivers looking for more power and agility, but there’s also something for those looking for a better connected experience.
This latest version of the C-Class now has Apple CarPlay built-in, something you had to spend some extra dollars in the past to get. It’s integrated in the central console’s top-mounted display, which looks a lot like the one unveiled at last January’s Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, aboard the smaller A-Class family sedan.
2019 Volvo V60
The new Volvo V60 wagon inherits the tall and large touchscreen display we’ve already seen aboard the XC60 and XC40 SUVs. This interface not only integrates Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, it also behaves exactly like a tablet, such as Apple’s iPad.
The caveat with this system is that it’s rather complicated to use while driving, a reason why people will probably prefer to boot up their phone’s in-dash interface so they can quickly access the four or five apps that matter most to them while driving.
That last detail not only explains why car buyers look more and more for the systems offered by Apple, Google and eventually Amazon, but it also illustrates how difficult it is for car manufacturers to understand these technologies.
However, now that they seem to have given up the fight, the coast is clear for Apple and the other major players in the tech industry to dominate that market.