updated 10:02 pm EDT, Wed June 4, 2014
After-market CarPlay solution also shown in customized 1965 Ford Mustang
While most of Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference focuses on forthcoming software, there is also some hardware to be found at WWDC -- three vehicles parked inside the conference hall feature sneak previews of Apple's CarPlay iOS technology incorporated into forthcoming vehicle models from Chevy and Ferrari. In addition, an after-market CarPlay solution kit from Pioneer was featured in a customized 1965 Ford Mustang. Apple gave USA Today a demo of the Chevy Spark EV implementation.
CarPlay inside a 1965 Ford Mustang
The system, which is available on vehicles beginning this summer, leverages the power of the iPhone, Siri and the iOS interface to offer a familiar and optionally "eyes free" interface to standard navigation and GPS functions, email and messaging options, and entertainment choices. The iPhone is generally docked to the car by USB, and allows users to interact with the Phone, Messages, Music and Maps apps either by touching an icon or asking Siri to invoke the app in question. Some third-party apps, such as MLB Radio, are also compatible with the system.
Driver safety is a major feature of CarPlay, and consequently the system differentiates features that are available when the car is in Park mode versus when it is driving. Hands- and eyes-free options are available for many functions, and the iPhone's controls for things like volume are fully integrated into the car's existing volume controls, either knobs on the car stereo or controls in the steering wheel.
Latest Chevrolet Spark models
Both iTunes Radio and other other Internet-based radio options are available based on cellular data, and users can of course listen to their own iTunes libraries. Siri can dial phone numbers and read messages or emails, as well has handling replies. If the vehicle already comes with GPS, the CarPlay system uses that in addition to its own location-finding abilities -- for example using the iPhone's built-in system to find a business, but handing off the actual mapping to the car's system.
The newspaper got a demonstration of the system assisted by an Apple guide, which took place inside a current-model Chevy Spark EV -- an unannounced option that would make Chevy the first company to offer CarPlay in an all-electric vehicle if it follows through with offering CarPlay with the Spark EV. The Ferrari, which was also available for demos, had been previously announced as supporting CarPlay and will be available later this summer.