CarPlay development characterized as easy, but Apple planning 'slow and steady' rollout
Only a select number of developers were allowed to work with CarPlay prior to this week's announcement, as Apple is taking a slow approach with its new car infotainment system platform, though integration of the feature with existing iOS applications is said to be a simple process.
Inside details on the behind-the-scenes work that went into this week's CarPlay unveiling was revealed on Thursday by Fast Company, which spoke with Clear Channel Media, one of just four companies that were allowed to develop apps for CarPlay ahead of Apple's announcement. Clear Channel's iHeartRadio was joined by Spotify, Beats Radio and Stitcher as Internet radio applications advertised to support CarPlay at launch.
Brian Lakamp, president of Digital for Clear Channel Entertainment, said his company worked closely with Apple to build the demo that was unveiled this week at the Geneva Motor Show. He said updating the existing iHeartRadio application on iOS to add support for CarPlay was a "fairly quick" process.
To keep things simple and consistent, and to cut down on cluttered apps that may be a distraction for drivers. Lakamp said the API for CarPlay features a "relatively straightforward directory structure" for listing songs and artists, while the on-screen controls come with just a "limited set of things you can do."
Fast Company also spoke with an anonymous Apple employee who indicated that safety is a chief concern for the company, which led not only to limited functionality for developers, but also such a small number of developers with access to CarPlay. It's unknown exactly when more developers might gain access to CarPlay to update their own existing iOS applications, as Apple is reportedly taking a "slow and steady" approach in pushing the new platform.
Currently, all third-party applications advertised for CarPlay are music- and radio-based. Apple has promised that "even more supported apps" will be "coming soon," but has not given a timetable or more details for outside developers.
More extensive, however, is the list of car companies that have pledged support for CarPlay, with select vehicles coming this year from Volvo, Honda, Mercedes-Benz, Jaguar, Hyundai, and Ferrari. Future partners that have also committed to support CarPlay are Ford, Chevrolet, BMW, Kia, Toyota, Nissan, and Mitsubishi.
The largest omission of support on the automaker front is Volkswagen, which told AppleInsider this week that it is "investigating" in-car infotainment providers beyond Google. Also missing is electric car maker Tesla, despite the fact that it has reportedly held talks with Apple about unknown matters.
On the Internet radio front, the most glaring absence of application support is Pandora, though there are many other services that go beyond the four limited partners announced by Apple. Pandora said in a statement to MacRumors this week that it continues to view Apple as a "valued partner," but the company declined to go into further detail.