GMs New Infotainment Systems Will Be Offered Starting 2016MY
Apple and Android users will enjoy easier integration between their smartphones and Chevy’s infotainment systems starting with the 2016 model year, as Apple CarPlay and Android Auto make its way to 14 different Chevy models. The new software integration will utilize Chevy’s 7-inch MyLink infotainment screens. The 8-inch MyLink screens will be compatible with Apple CarPlay at the beginning of the 2016 model year, while Android Auto is expected to be available on the 8-inch screen some time later in the 2016 model year, following further development and testing.
“For most of us, our smartphones are essential,” said Mary Barra, CEO of General Motors, in a press release. “Partnering with Apple and Google to offer CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility across the widest range of models in the industry is a great example of how Chevrolet continues to democratize technology that’s important to our customers.”
So far, vehicles penned for integration using the 7-inch screen include the Spark, Cruze, Malibu, Camaro coupe and convertible, and Silverado light- and heavy-duty. The 8-inch screen integration will be found on the Cruze, Malibu, Impala, Volt, Camaro coupe and convertible, Corvette coupe and convertible, Colorado, Silverado light- and heavy-duty, Tahoe, and Suburban.
Chevy also plans on bringing this new integration to markets outside the U.S., including Brazil, Mexico and Canada. You can find more information regarding Android Auto market availability here and Apple CarPlay market availability here.
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Why it matters
Without a doubt, smartphone integration remains one of the biggest selling points for sales of modern passenger cars. Being able to extend all the crucial functionalities found on that square piece of tech in your pocket can be the make-or-break feature when shopping for a new car, and automakers are scrambling to make their infotainment systems integrate with as little fuss as possible.
One of the best ways to do this is to work directly with smartphone makers. With 14 models integrating Android Auto and Apply CarPlay, Chevy claims it’ll be the brand with the most compatible models on the road, which should help substantially when new potential buyers walk into dealerships already sporting Apple and Android products. The 14 models account for over 2.4 million vehicles worldwide, more than half of Chevy’s total global sales. Further enticement comes from the optional OnStar 4G LTE connectivity, a feature Chevy claims has connected over half a million customers to in-car, high-speed internet in less than a year.
Chevy claims it’ll be the brand with the most compatible models on the road, which should help substantially when new potential buyers walk into dealerships already sporting Apple and Android products.
Android users will get all the features they’ve come to expect from their phones, including Google Maps, Google Now, and the ability to talk and ask questions of Google, plus a large collection of popular messaging and music software like WhatsApp, Skype, Google Play Music, Spotify, and podcast players. Android phones must be using the Lollipop 5.0 operating system or above to be compatible. You can find a full list of supported apps at Android.com/auto. Apple users, meanwhile, will get similar levels of support, including functionalities like Phone, Messages, Maps, Music, and a variety of third-party applications. Only the iPhone 5 and later will be compatible. You can find a full list of compatible apps at Apple.com/ios/carplay.
Phones connect to the MyLink infotainment system via a USB cord. Controlling the newly integrated infotainment system will be both voice recognition software and buttons on the steering wheel. GM claims this helps “drivers spend more time with eyes on the road and hands on the wheel,” although rummaging through podcasts while driving is still probably a pretty big distraction, even if it does happen to be hands-free.
Regardless, it’s crucial functionality for customers. Logically, bringing in the direct support of Apple and Google makes much more sense than developing an in-house user interface, and for a number of reasons. It eases integration, offering the plug-and-play functionality that modern electronics consumers have come to expect. And it creates an intuitive, familiar UI that is easily navigable. Finally, it makes app support much simpler.
The new integration conjures memories of GM’s CUE (Cadillac User Experience) infotainment system, which was released a few years back amid a torrent of frustration from users. While Caddy’s new vehicles offered tons of luxury, performance and style, few found the CUE system up to par. Many reviewers and customers were aggravated by the system’s complicated navigation system, lack of physical controls, and general dearth of support. GM quickly went about updating the system, fixing most of these problems in subsequent generations, but many were left with a sour taste in their mouths. With Apple and Google onboard, future GM models should (hopefully) have no such problems.
Instead of focusing on developing new infotainment systems, it seems as though GM will instead focus on doing what it does best – building cars. The automaker recently announced its intentions to invest $5.4 billion in American factories over the course of the next three years, as part of an effort to modernize its production facilities and shore up American jobs. One specific focus will be the variety of plants based out of Michigan.
Which is good– leave the software to the folks from Mountain View. When it comes to actually putting together the mechanical bits on four wheels, well, that’s more of a Detroit thing, don’t you think?