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GM to offer Android, Apple systems in many 2016 models

Published:Friday | May 29, 2015 | 12:00 AM
Alicia Boler-Davis, General Motors senior vice president, Global Connected Customer Experience, speaks about Google’s Android Auto system in Detroit Tuesday, May 26, 2015. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
An iPhone is connected to a 2016 Chevrolet Malibu equipped with Apple CarPlay apps, displayed on the car's MyLink screen, top, during a demonstration in Detroit, Tuesday, May 26, 2015. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

libraries, podcasts, social media contacts and other personal items on them, said Tim Bajarin, president of Creative Strategies, a technology research firm in San Jose, California. Automakers, he said, have realised that most drivers can't be bothered learning a whole new car-based system.

"We just want familiar. We want our content, our services that we already own on our phones. We just want the car to have the representation of that on demand," Bajarin said.

To get the systems, GM customers will have to purchase a new Chevrolet equipped with the brand's 'MyLink' touch screens, which are available on many entry-level models.

Once people plug into the car's USB port, the system will convert the screen to resemble the phone. The system will then be able to play a person's music library, log on to music apps with a touch, send and receive text messages by voice, and even call up Apple or Google Maps for navigation.

limited apps

The number of available apps will be limited to avoid driver distraction, GM officials said. Many can be controlled by voice commands, and video won't be supported by the car system.

To work with MyLink, Android phones must have at least the Lollipop 5.0 operating system, while Apple CarPlay requires an iPhone 5 or newer model.

GM will provide CarPlay or Android Car for no additional cost. Although this might cause some drivers to shun MyLink, GM believes that ultimately giving consumers the choice will help it sell more cars, said Saejin Park, the company's director of innovation and portfolio planning.

Mark Boyadjis, senior analyst for infotainment at IHS Automotive, said the decision doesn't necessarily mean the death of MyLink, Ford's Sync and other systems. The automakers' systems have specific information about the car that Apple or Google can't duplicate - engine diagnostics, heating and air-conditioning controls or even the ability to set up service appointments with dealerships, Boyadjis said.

GM officials also noted that some car owners might drive in areas without the cellular telephone coverage needed to run the Apple or Google systems. And others prefer not to plug anything in to their cars.

Initially, both systems will be offered in the 2016 Spark mini car, Cruze compact, Malibu midsize car, Camaro and Camaro convertible and the Silverado pickup, both regular and heavy-duty models.

If something goes wrong with the system under warranty, Apple and Google would be responsible if the problem originates with their software. GM would handle any problems on its end such as the MyLink hardware, GM said.

Apple and Android combined control about 95 per cent of the world's smartphone market, so having both systems is necessary. International Data Corp is forecasting Android will have a 79 per cent share of the smartphone market this year, with Apple (iOS) a distant second at 16 per cent.

- AP