Car Mobile Operating Systems

The latest innovations in car connectivity have come from Apple, Google and other tech companies offering mobile operating systems for cars. These platforms have the potential to radically improve and standardise the level of integration with your mobile device. Essentially they will let you use your smartphone features in your car, including phone, music, maps, messages and third party apps. They integrate these features with voice recognition technology and your car's display and controls meaning you can keep distraction to a minimum whilst driving.

Although these are new technologies, each of the systems will start being fitted to select models in 2014. Hopefully with time, manufactures will fit the systems simultaneously meaning you won't have to lock yourself to compatibility with a specific platform. It will be really exciting to watch these developments over the coming years!

Apple Car Play

What is it?

Apple's CarPlay, launched in 2014, is Apple's offering to get their mobile operating system into our vehicles. Essentially the system is designed to transfer functionality from your iPhone to your car.

What can it do?

The system will allow you to use and control your iPhone's features through your car's systems. For example you can listen to music through your car's speakers, bring up Apple's Maps application in you car's inbuilt display, whilst controlling it all using your car's touchscreen, buttons and knobs or voice recognition (Siri).

Apple advises that the system will work with their core applications: maps, phone, messages, music and podcast, as well as third party Apps such as Spotify.

How do I connect to it?

To be able to use CarPlay you will need to have a car fitted with the CarPlay system. Apple has advised that it will be available on select Ferrari, Honda, Hyundai, Mercedes-Benz and Volvo models in 2014. Apple has partnered with many more major manufactures however who will also offer CarPlay in future models. To see the current list visit: https://www.apple.com/uk/ios/carplay/.

Initially you will need to connect your iPhone using a lightning cable, so the system will only work with iPhone 5S, 5C or 5 models. It has been indicated that a wireless connection may follow later via Wi-Fi or Bluetooth®, which could open up compatibility to older Apple devices.

What if I don't want to buy a new car?

Apple has also confirmed that that you will be able to add CarPlay to older cars with aftermarket head-units from either Pioneer or Alpine. There is also speculation that car manufacturers may offer retrofit solutions.

I'm intrigued...

Car Play has great potential to improve the way you can connect your iPhone to your car. To read more on the latest developments, visit Apple's website: https://www.apple.com/uk/ios/carplay/.

Android Auto - Led by Google and the Open Automotive Alliance

What is it?

Android Auto, launched in 2014, is a solution from Google and the Open Automotive Alliance to bring your Android™ phone's functionality to your car.

Who are the Open Automotive Alliance?

The Open Automotive Alliance is a group of technology companies (which includes Google) and manufacturing companies (including GM, Audi, Honda & Hyundai). Their formation was announced in January 2014. You can read more about them here: http://www.openautoalliance.net/#about

What can it do?

The system allows you to access many of the features of your Android phone whilst keeping your eyes on the road, including music, contacts, messages, maps and other apps. The Android Auto page details compatible apps including Google Maps™, Google Play™, Spotify, Sticher. It also supports voice control and will integrate with your cars controls.

How do I connect to it?

To be able to use Android Auto you will need to have a car fitted with the Android Auto system. Google advises that Android Auto is coming soon to new vehicles from lots of automakers including Audi, Ford, Nissan, Opel (Vauxhall), Volkswagen and many more.

You then simply connect your Android phone via Micro USB and you are all set! Again there are indications that wireless Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connections may follow.

I'm intrigued...

To read more on the latest developments, visit the Android Auto website: http://www.android.com/auto/

MirrorLink™

What is it?

MirrorLink is another technology developed by a group of companies, the Car Connectivity Consortium. It has been around for a little longer and is designed to provide a connectivity standard between a smartphone and the car infotainment system.

Who are the Car Connectivity Consortium?

The Car Connectivity Consortium is a large group of technology and car manufacturers. They claim their members represent more than 80 percent of the world's auto market and more than 70 percent of the global smartphone market. Members include smartphone manufacturers such as Nokia (Microsoft), Samsung, LG and HTC as well as car manufacturers such as Volkswagen, Toyota, Honda and Hyundai.

What can it do?

MirrorLink can replicate your phone display in your car, giving you access to your phone's features and apps via your vehicle's display and dashboard/steering-wheel buttons. It will also integrate with your sound system.

You will only be able to use apps that have been certified as safe to use whilst driving (so you won't be able to watch videos on the move for example). Car manufactures will also offer specialist apps. For example Volkswagen have said they will offer VW apps that mix navigation information with vehicle data.

How do I connect to it?

To connect you will need a MirrorLink compatible car and phone. You then simply connect the two with a USB cable, or potentially wirelessly via Bluetooth/Wi-Fi.

The good news is that MirrorLink is compatible with many of today's smartphones including Samsung, Nokia and Sony models. For a list click here. At the time of writing a notable absentee are iPhone models, with Apple instead developing their CarPlay system.

Starting in 2014 the technology is being fitted in some car models. For example it is a £150 optional extra on the latest VW Polo available from July 2014 the UK (press release). It is also available on some aftermarket stereos from Sony and Alpine.

I'm intrigued...

If you have a compatible Android phone and are looking to get a new car, it is definitely worth looking out to see whether it supports the new MirrorLink™ technology. To read more you can visit: http://www.mirrorlink.com

Summary

These new methods of integrating your devices with your car are particularly exciting. They have great potential to safely bring the power of your smartphone into your car.

Whilst you will be able to order certain car models with each technology fitted in 2014, it will take time for the platforms to become widely available. The good news is that there are signs that manufacturers will be able to fit multiple platforms simultaneously. This would mean you could switch between them depending on your brand of smartphone.

In the immediate future, if you want one of these new integration solutions, you will need to carefully select your car make, model, options and your next phone!