Apple CarPlay in a 2016 model Chevrolet. (Photo: GM).
Smartphone apps are now as American as Apple, Google, and Chevrolet.
Yesterday Hyundai announced that it would be upgrading its 2015 Sonatas to support Android Auto. Today it was Chevy’s turn to take the pole position in the Geektona 500.
The Detroit automaker announced that up to 14 of its 2016 models will roll off the factory lines with built-in support for Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The systems can turn your sometimes clumsy infotainment units into a smartphone on wheels.
Android Auto will initially be supported in seven cars that feature the 7-inch MyLink infotainment system, which includes the Spark, Cruze, Camaro, Malibu, and Silverado. CarPlay will be available in 13 models that use the 8-inch screen, adding the Impala, Corvette, Tahoe, and Volt. All told, these models accounted for some 2.4 million new car purchases in 2014 — more than half of all the cars Chevy sold that year.
Chevy says support for Android Auto on the 8-inch MyLink screen may be coming later in 2016 but did not specify a timetable for that.
The company also says it is opening more than 1,000 customer support centers where newbie Chevy owners can learn how to connect their smartphones and get help with their mobile devices. Think of it as a Genius Bar for your car.
CarPlay and Android Auto offer Apple fanboys and Google phandroids a car interface they’re already familiar with. Aside from some slight variations, both work more or less identically.
By pressing a button on the steering wheel, you can use your voice to make calls, receive and respond to texts, launch apps, get turn-by-turn directions, find the nearest Chinese restaurant and other local businesses, or say “Play me some Barry Manilow.” You can also ask Siri or Google Now to search the Internet as you roll down the Interstate.
Android Auto in a 2016 Chevrolet. (Photo: GM).
Because they’re running on your phone, the apps will be able to pull contacts directly from your phone’s address book, access your favorites and bookmarks, and have your location history close at hand.
To use CarPlay or Android Auto you’ll need to have an iPhone 5 or later model or a handset running Android 5.0 (aka “Lollipop”) with the Android Auto app installed. Because of the large amount of data being transmitted from each phone, each handset needs to be hardwired to the car’s infotainment system via a USB cable.
Maps and apps
CarPlay and Android Auto will use the car’s larger and more accurate GPS antenna for location information but will pull maps and points-of-interest databases directly from the respective smartphones.
The Android Auto apps lineup for 2016. (Image: Android.com)
Each will also support a handful of mobile apps that you’ll be able to access via the car. Android Auto apps include NPR One, Skype, Kik, and TextPlus. CarPlay’s list features MLB.com’s At Bat, CBS Radio News, and Audiobooks.com. Both systems support Spotify, iHeartRadio, the Stitcher podcast app, and the Umano newsreader. Chevy says more apps are on the way.
For safety reasons, the functionality of both apps is limited to navigation, communications, information, and audio. You won’t be watching YouTube videos, updating your Facebook status, or playing Angry Birds on your car’s stereo. And that’s probably for the best.
For all the hottest tech news and gadget reviews, follow Yahoo Tech on Facebook here!