Now, this doesn't strike us as some gimmicky thing. It's become increasingly common for automakers to take advantage of the high-speed data streams its customers enjoy on their smartphones in order to integrate navigation, traffic, audio and other infotainment items into a car's touchscreen interface. The Chevrolet Spark and Sonic are two prime examples of this move, using an iPhone's data stream for Siri integration and data for a third-party navigation app.
It's best to think of CarPlay as a sweeping expansion of the system seen in the Spark and Sonic. According to Apple, following an iOS update, owners will be able to plug in their iPhones to their cars via the USB port and gain control of a number of the device's functions, all through a car's touchscreen. If there is no touchscreen, then voice controls are available.
That means making and receiving calls, text messages, emails and voicemails, accessing navigation via Apple Maps (which is shown on a car's display, provided it has one) and of course, operating the iPhone's audio options, such as music, podcasts and audio books, are all available in one easy-to-access place. CarPlay will also integrate popular iOS music apps, like Spotify.
What's most impressive is the sheer number of manufacturers Apple claims to have signed on for CarPlay. At the Geneva show alone, Apple is expecting announcements from Ferrari, Mercedes-Benz and Volvo. Future announcements are expected from BMW, Ford, General Motors, Toyota, Nissan, Mitsubishi and Jaguar Land Rover, among others.
CarPlay will only be available to owners of the iPhone 5, 5C and 5S.