updated 03:36 pm EST, Thu March 6, 2014
Main barrier may be Apple approval
CarPlay support is fairly easy to implement for apps, suggests Brian Lakamp, Clear Channel's president of Digital. iHeartRadio -- an app that streams Clear Channel stations -- is one of the few third-party offerings currently supported by CarPlay. "Apple is pretty selective about how they disclose information," Lakamp says about how his company gained a toehold. "Apple made us aware of the opportunity. We were enthusiastic to participate and then worked closely with them to build the demo that they just demoed in Geneva." The iHeartRadio team was given early access to the private CarPlay API.
Lakamp describes CarPlay support as "fairly quick" to add to its existing code. "The way that Apple constructed this is a relatively thin layer that we need to build to copy existing apps that move some of the control and command structure to the console. Then the console simply acts as a remote control to your app. It was a relatively light integration.
"Apple provided twin lanes for the UI and a framework for the UI to operate within, and so made that part of it relatively easy as well," he continues. "It's a relatively straightforward directory structure and a player structure that has a limited set of controls, or limited set of things you can do. They've got a consistency of feel on the platform, as you might expect from Apple, and a simplicity around how you browse through a menu of choices."
So far CarPlay is a narrow platform. At present, the only third-party apps with support include iHeartRadio, Spotify, Beats Radio, and Stitcher, omitting some other apps popular in cars, like Pandora and Rdio. In 2014 CarPlay will only be available on a handful of cars from companies like Volvo, Mercedes-Benz, and Ferrari.