Future Of CarPlay Murky For Developers As Apple Launches With Select Partners

Spotify is one of the select launch partners for Apple's CarPlay. (image courtesy of Volvo)

Spotify is one of the few launch partners for Apple’s CarPlay. (image courtesy of Volvo)

This week Apple announced CarPlay, a rebranding of ‘iOS in the Car’ from WWDC last summer. The software is an extension of iOS that is designed for hands-free use of Siri, Apple Maps, Phone, Messages, and services like iTunes Radio.

While Apple’s focus with CarPlay is clearly on its own apps and services, the company has chosen to launch with four “select third-party audio apps.” It’s good news for the chosen four, but how Apple plans to work with other developers on CarPlay integration in the future remains unclear.

Apple is officially taking the wraps off CarPlay in new Ferrari, Mercedes-Benz and Volvo vehicles this week at the Geneva motor show. Beats Music, iHeartRadio, Spotify, and Sticher are all launch partners.

Little is known about how easy Apple will make CarPlay integration for third-party developers.

“As far as I can tell, there is no way to put your own UI on that screen”

AirPlay-like video streaming is used to beam apps from an iOS device to the car’s touchscreen. While the API used for sending audio through CarPlay is public, we’ve spoken with developers who indicate that utilizing the car’s touchscreen requires private API access. “As far as I can tell, there is no way to put your own UI on that screen,” said Steven Troughton-Smith, the developer who leaked Apple’s updated interface for CarPlay two months ago.

Spotify, iHeartRadio, and Sticher declined to comment for this story. Beats Music said, “While the auto is very important part of the Beats Electronics ecosystem, it’s a bit early for us to talk about our integration into CarPlay.” Apple didn’t respond to a request for comment.

Noticeably absent partners include Pandora and Rdio. Pandora PR told MacRumors that while it is not integrated with CarPlay yet, “Apple has been and continues to be a valued partner.” Apple has been aggressively building iTunes Radio as a formidable Pandora competitor, which may have something to do with the decision to leave Pandora out of the mix.

On its website, Apple says to “stay tuned for even more supported apps coming soon.” The company could choose to go the route of the Apple TV and only reach out to select partners. But given how much of a “key focus” CarPlay is for Apple, it’s likely that all developers will be able to update their iOS apps for CarPlay in the future. Exactly how that will pan out remains unclear.

iOS 7.1 is expected to come out this month, so there’s a possibility the company will give more information to developers about integrating with CarPlay then.

  • Tyler

    I love that they’re playing In Flames!!

About the author

Alex HeathAlex Heath is a journalist and co-host of The CultCast. He has been quoted by the likes of the BBC, KRON 4 News, and books like "ICONIC: A Photographic Tribute to Apple Innovation." He lives in Lexington, Kentucky. If you want to pitch a story, share a tip, or just get in touch, additional contact information is available on his personal site. Follow him on Twitter.

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