Apple Taps Magna International To Help Build Apple Car
Apple may be one of the biggest tech companies in the world, but when it comes to building cars, the tech giant knows better than to go at it alone. On the heels of reports that Apple has laid off employees from its autonomous car project, a new report from Bloomberg claims that the company is already collaborating with Magna International Inc. to develop a vehicle that could end up being the Apple Car.
The report does not dive into the details of the partnership, opting only to say that a dozen of Magna’s engineers are working with Apple’s team to develop a vehicle. That’s not much to go by but it does provide a peek into the tech company’s plans for its autonomous driving vehicle in light of concerns that the company’s project wasn’t doing as well as expected.
For those who are not familiar with Magnar, the company is considered as the world’s biggest contract manufacturer for cars. A big part of its business is helping automakers manufacture their vehicles when these brands don’t have the space or time to build them, essentially becoming a one-stop shop for some of the biggest names in the business, including Volkswagen, BMW, and Aston Martin.
The presence of Magnar is a huge boost for Apple’s desire to build its own car, especially with the rise of electric and autonomous driving vehicles and car-sharing services that the tech giant is keen to be a part of. As good as Apple is in developing software and technologies for its consumer electronics products, it’s not as adept at building a car from the ground up. That’s Magnar’s expertise and having them in the fold could pave the way for the tech firm to finally make significant strides in the development of the long-rumored Apple Car.
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2021 Apple iCar
Back in the late ‘90s, Apple released the iMac G3 – a colorful, simple-to-use desktop computer aimed at getting folks onto the Internet as quickly and easily as possible. The iMac G3 saved Apple from financial ruin, and set the stage for such absurdly successful products as the iPad and iPhone. Now, 20 years later, rumor has it Apple is looking to apply the ‘ole i-gloss to the automotive industry. Nothing official has surfaced as of yet, but there’s a growing body of evidence that suggests Apple is building an all-electric car with advanced autonomous capabilities.
It’s an exciting prospect. A product like that has the potential to be a real game changer, especially coming from a company like Apple. Just like the original i-devices, an Apple iCar could very well set the standard by which all other rivals are judged. Either that, or it could fail miserably. Or maybe it’ll never come to market at all.
Regardless, the story behind the theoretical Apple iCar is fragmented and jumbled, a mishmash of corporate rivalries, secret research facilities, and potentially world-changing technology. But fear not, intrepid reader, because we searched high and low to make sense of it all, grabbing all the rumors, leaks, and high-quality renderings the web could muster before assembling the following speculative review.
Continue reading to learn more about the future Apple iCar.
Apple’s big press event kicked off in the first week of September, with the big hit of the show being the new iPhone 7, followed by the new Apple Watch, and the Apple AirPods – the modern day wireless headphones. Now that the iPhone 7 has been officially revealed, we know that it doesn’t have the traditional 3.5mm headphone jack that has been found on phones for at least the last decade and on other devices for much longer than that. For some of us, that little phone vagina offers up eargasms when we use it to send music to our car radios (or home audio systems, for that matter.) So far, the whole concept has had seen mixed opinions.
The new AirPods are cool but expensive. Some have offered up the opinion that there’s no way the wireless technology used can provide the same audio quality as a wired connection. The latter is a valid argument, by the way. If you don’t believe me, do an internet speed test on your laptop while connected to your router wirelessly, then do it again through a wired connection. You’ll find your transfer speeds are faster on a wired connection. Despite that argument, the new AirPods make use of Apple’s new W1 Chip, which could make pairing your phone to your car a lot easier and more predictable in the future.
So far, Apple has yet to break out the full details of how the W1 chip actually works, but we know it sucks very little power. And, during the announcement for the new AirPods, the term “Bluetooth” didn’t come up one time. So, it’s possible that the new W1 chip uses a different technology. Some sources are suggesting that it uses some new variant of Bluetooth technology while others claim it could be some kind of Wi-Fi transmission or even near field magnetic induction (NFMI.) Regardless, there is no pairing process as we know it through the current Bluetooth connectivity standards. So what does this mean for us in the car? Well, I’m glad you asked because I’m here to talk about exactly that.
Is Apple Getting Cold Feet Over Autonomous Driving Technology?
Tech giant Apple may be coming off of a high with the introduction of the iPhone 7, but not everything appears to be on the up-and-up over there at 1 Infinite Loop. According to a report by The New York Times, Apple is reevaluating its plans to develop autonomous driving cars just as some of its rivals – Google and Uber among them – are doubling down on their own efforts to develop their versions of the technology.
The report mentioned that Apple has already laid off “dozens of employees” in the wake of struggles to gain any significant ground on Project Titan, the code name for the company’s autonomous driving initiative. The layoffs are reportedly tied into a reboot of the whole project and come two months after Apple executive Bob Mansfield took the reigns for the project. Apparently, Mansfield pushed to change the whole objective of Project Titan in an attempt to distance itself on designing and producing an actual Apple Car and instead focus on developing technologies that can be used on autonomous driving vehicles, including batteries, sensors, and actual software.
There hasn’t been any confirmation or denial on Apple’s side on whether this shift in focus played a role in the layoffs, but for what it’s worth, the tech company isn’t abandoning its development altogether. For one, it’s already invested heavily in the space as it already has a number of self-driving cars that are in the middle of testing. Second, Apple’s already two years into the project and has assembled an impressive team made up of some of the brightest minds in both battery technology and the automobile industry – at least those who survived the layoff.
It’s highly unlikely that the company will pull the plug entirely on what it has accomplished so far, but it is disconcerting to hear that the company that’s known for its innovations isn’t gaining as much ground on autonomous driving technology.
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Will Apple’s Big Event Shed Light on the Apple Car, and What About that iPhone 7?
Apple’s latest media event kicks off September 7 at the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium in San Francisco and so far, it is looking to be a big event. The biggest news seems to stem around the new iPhone 7, changes to iPhone memory options, and the new Apple Watch. While this seems to be the buzz at the moment, we’re wondering if we’ll actually hear anything about the upcoming apple car or changes to Apple CarPlay, among other things.
Before I get too far off topic, let’s talk a little bit about the mysterious Apple Car. Apple has done well about keeping the meat and potatoes of the project under wraps. Originally, the brand was vetting potential partnerships with Chrysler and BMW, but those fell through over discrepancies over data. To put it shortly, BMW and Chrysler wanted ownership of user data, while Apple wanted to store all data in the iCloud. As of April 2016, both automotive brands were said to have stepped away. Months later, Macrumors suggested that negotiations with BMW – specifically surrounding using the BMW i3 as a template for the apple car. That, however, is just speculation and to the best of our knowledge, there are no plans for BMW and Apple to develop a vehicle jointly.
With that said, it’s quite possible that Apple has decided to take their own approach and develop a car they can call all their own. And, that only makes sense, considering the brand obviously wants the first vehicle with an apple on it to link in with all of its other products and services. With any luck, we’ll learn a little more about the yet-to-be-confirmed Apple Car during this big event in September. Outside of this, we’re also expecting the brand to announce changes to Apple CarPlay that could bring some kind of advanced connectivity between iPhones and vehicle infotainment systems. If nothing else, minor changes could bring more app compatibility.
Then, there’s the iPhone 7. Rumor has it that the iPhone 7 will be void of any headphone jack. While Bluetooth headphones and earbuds have become something of the norm, this is still a pretty big move. On the automotive side of things, it could have a dramatic effect on your ability to stream music inside the car. If you have a newer model that has Apple CarPlay and Bluetooth connectivity, you have nothing to worry about. But, upgrading to the iPhone 7 could mean you’ll need to upgrade your car, or at the very least the entertainment system if you want to stream music from your phone. For those of us who don’t have Bluetooth Connectivity or Apple CarPlay, we still do it the old-fashioned way – with a 3.5 mm auxiliary cable plugged into the auxiliary port of the radio. If the iPhone 7 ditches the headphone jack, you’ll lose that capability if you upgrade your phone. Not cool.
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Apple Car Could Hit The Market By 2021
The development of electric vehicles started out within the auto industry, but as the popularity of these cars continue to grow, development has stretched well past the confines of the auto world. We already know that Apple is on the path towards developing its own EV with what has been referred to as “Project Titan.” Not much has been detailed about the project, but new information has been brought to light by analyst Gene Munster of Piper Jaffray regarding Project Titan.
According to Munster, Apple has has more than 1,000 people working on the project, signifying a serious intent to push the development of Project Titan to meet its deadline. The tech giant is keen on having the vehicle ready to make its debut in 2019 or 2020 with an eye towards sales beginning in 2021. A price tag of $75,000 has also been thrown out for the Apple electric car, making it slightly more affordable than the base Tesla Model S. Considering that the timetable is still five years away, it’s unlikely the price has been set in stone.
As expected, Apple is heavily invested on the design of its electric car and there’s no indication that the company would outsource this part of the project to anybody else. That said, the actual build of the car is expected to be outsourced considering that the tech firm doesn’t have the machinery to build volume cars on its own. No automaker has been linked to this project, which could mean Apple has a lot of choices on where and how it plans to build the car.
On that note, the whole project is still far from a slam dunk. At any point in time, it could be delayed or scrapped altogether. It’s unlikely it will end up that way considering how much time and resources Apple has invested to move the project forward. But the auto industry can be unforgiving, especially to companies that aren’t entrenched in the business. Munster said that he’s “relatively optimistic” that the EV has a chance of ending up in production, but a lot of that optimism depends on whether Apple is as resolved to making Project Titan work as a lot of us have been led to believe.
Continue after the jump to read the full story.
GMC has announced that Apple CarPlay will be offered in the Canyon, Yukon, and Sierra starting in the 2016 model year. Android users also share the news, though on at a lesser extent, as Android Auto will make its way into some Sierra models at first, with the Canyon and Yukon coming later in the model year.
Apple CarPlay essentially mirrors select applications from a user’s iPhone onto the vehicle’s infotainment system. This allows operation of the phone from both the touch screen and voice controls for a more connected yet safer experience.
CarPlay allows users to make calls, send and receive messages, listen to iTunes and third party music apps like Pandora, and use the iPhone’s Maps application – all without touching their iPhone. The CarPlay interface takes after Apple’s iOS graphic user interface with a clean, crisp, colorful display that is easy to read at a glance.
The Canyon, Yukon, and Sierra models with the eight-inch IntelliLink infotainment screen will get full use of CarPlay. The seven-inch screen in base model Sierras will also have the full range of CarPlay abilities. To activate, the user simply pushes a “Projection” button on the infotainment screen when an iPhone is connected to the system. Connection must be made via the iPhone connector though a USB port, however; Bluetooth does not support the transfer of CarPlay data.
What’s more, users can take advantage of GMC’s built-in 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot, saving cellular network data from accruing.
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Ferrari has begun shipping its FF and California T with Apple CarPlay, the innovative iOS-based infotainment system that links users’ iPhones with their Ferrari’s dash-mounted touch screen. We’ve known that Apple had chosen Ferrari to be one of its first vehicle applications for a while, but it wasn’t until now that users could get their hands on the latest Apple technology.
Ferrari says the first CarPlay-equipped FF has shipped to an Italian client, with more scheduled for Germany, Great Britain, France, Switzerland, Japan, and the United States.
Apple isn’t sticking to just Ferrari, however. The tech giant has partnered with a generous handful of automakers including Honda, Hyundai, Volvo, and Mercedes-Benz. Other automakers such as General Motors, Ford, Fiat-Chrysler, Jaguar Land Rover, and Audi are listed as partners currently developing future vehicles with CarPlay capabilities.
Apple now joins ranks with Microsoft in having a presence in the automotive scene. While Microsoft’s Sync has been included in Ford Motor Company products for more than five years, Apple’s CarPlay is the first to integrate the user’s cell phone to such a heavy extent.
Click past the jump to see Apple CarPlay in action
Audi just became more appealing to technophiles today after the company announced its integration of Google’s Android Auto, which was unveiled today at Google’s I/O annual technologies conference in San Francisco. Like Apple’s CarPlay, Android Auto will combine the user’s smartphone with their car’s in-dash infotainment system in a seamless manner that’s conducive for safe driving free of distractions.
Audi’s integration of Android Auto means a lot of new voice controls for Google Play Music, Google Maps, and other functions. Video and multimedia, along with text-rich items won’t be displayed while the car is in motion, but will become available when in Park.
The system comes alive when an Android smartphone is connected to a compatible Audi. A prompt appears asking if the user wants to display their apps through the MMI system. Once chosen to do so, the system basically uses the MMI screen as an interface for the smartphone. Audio streams and microphone inputs are all routed through the car.
What’s more, Audi says the Android Auto system will be available within a number of 2015 model year vehicles, meaning Android Auto-equipped Audis will be roaming the streets starting sometime this fall. Of course Audi ensures that Android Auto-equipped car will not prohibit users from connecting non-Android smartphones like iPhones or Blackberries, but the full functionality of the system won’t be accessible.
Click past the jump to read more about Audi’s Android Auto Connection.
The time is drawing nearer to when Apple’s CarPlay finally hits the streets in consumer vehicles. At the company’s recent 2014 Worldwide Developers Conference, USA Today got an up-close look at the new in-dash iOS operating system inside a 2014 Chevrolet Spark EV. This in-car demonstration shows just how familiar the software is to the usual iOS-powered devices.
Interestingly, Chevrolet has not made an official announcement concerning when CarPlay would be introduced into its product lineup. Chevy is listed as a “committed partner” with Apple in bringing the software to market, but the automaker has yet to announce any word on what vehicles will receive the system or what the roll-out timeline looks like.
Though it is possible Chevy will incorporate CarPlay into the Spark and other models late into the 2014 model year, it’s more likely the new technology will debut for 2015. We’re expecting General Motors to make quite the hubbub about the news once things are all confirmed.
Chevy will be joined by Ferrari, Volvo, Hyundai, and Mercedes as the first crop of automakers to sell cars with hardware capable of running the iOS software. What’s more, from the video above, it appears the software will also allow owners to access tailored vehicle-specific menus. In the Spark’s case, it has a “My Chevrolet” application on its home screen.
For those with older vehicles, companies like Pioneer are developing CarPlay-compatible head units that work with nearly every vehicle. A 1965 Ford Mustang was on display at Apple’s WWDC to showcase the aftermarket potential.
Click past the jump for more about the 2014 Chevrolet Spark EV
It certainly goes without saying that there are few automakers in this world that can compete with Bentley’s status as a premier luxury brand. But being identified with luxury isn’t the only thing that Bentley is proud of; the company also has this goal of combining all that class and elegance with technology. So the company developed a new four-minute short film, titled "Intelligent Details," to specifically showcase how it has achieved blending luxury and technology in one package.
The short film is told through the words of Bentley Director of Design Luc Donckerwolke and Head of Exterior Design Sang Yup Lee. While riding the Mulsanne in the streets of New York, the two describe the company’s goal of offering
"performance that’s compatible with luxury", something Donckerwolke proudly claims no other auto brand in the world can claim.
The two also talk about a new goal for the company to turn the interior of its vehicles into its own living space that’s largely attributed to a renewed sense of empowering it with interior infotainment technology. This is where the short film comes circle in a really cool way. We’re not going to spoil you the ending of the video, but what Bentley used to develop, create, and edit this four-minute short film certainly may shock you, given its professional quality.
Allow me to get this off of my chest ahead of time. You all know that I love Tesla, but what you likely do not know is how much I loathe Apple and everything it produces. From the Macbook all the way to the iPod Nano, I can’t stand it. I’ll spare you the gory details of my hatred for fear of igniting a nerd war...
With that in mind, imaging my panic when the rumors of Apple buying/merging with Tesla started flaring up. Well, those have fortunately died down and Telsla’s Elon Musk squashed the rumors, but that is not the end of the Apple/Tesla news. A report indicates that Apple’s head of mergers and acquisitions met with Musk last spring, but likely not on the topic of acquiring the electric car supergiant; rather, the most likely situation is that Apple is interested in being a part of Tesla’s "Gigafactory" project.
Apple is well known for dealing in green factories, and what greener of a factory than this one that will more than double the world’s output of lithium-ion batteries? It’s very obvious that Apple has serious interest in Tesla, but after Elon Musk made it clear that the company is not for sale. this is the most likely route for Apple to take in order to get a small slice of the Tesla pie.
Not only would this add a new revenue stream to Apple, but it would also alleviate some of the costs that Tesla will endure and give apple better access to more lithium-ion batteries at a significantly cheaper price. It’s a win-win, so I can’t see any reason for a deal like this to not take place.
What do you guys think; are these two tech giants about to make a deal for this factory or are we all sadly mistaken? Let me know in the comments below.
Click past the jump to read more about the Tesla Model S.