For some years now, big name car makers have been using Apple CarPlay and Android Auto as selling points: buy our car and it'll do great things with your phone! But from 2024, General Motors is going to go its own way. According to Reuters, GM is going to phase out its support for CarPlay with a little bit of help from Google.
It'll begin with the 2024 Chevy Blazer EV, but the goal is to replace all models currently running CarPlay with a new, GM-specific system built by Google. You'll still get access to the likes of Google Maps and Google Assistant, but there are a few reasons to be concerned here.
Do you want to rely on your car firm's entertainment tech?
The official line here is that GM doesn't want to make in-car systems that expect you to have a phone, but given that its Blazer EVs start at around $45,000 it's hardly a leap of faith to expect EV drivers – some of the most affluent and enthusiastic early adopters around – to have iPhones or Android phones.
What's much more likely is that GM feels that by using its in-car system as a screen for CarPlay, it's missing out on data collection and money charging opportunities. GM can't charge you for an iOS update on your phone, or for using Google Maps on your Android. But it can charge you for ongoing updates or for specific app access if the apps you use are running on its own OS. According to GM's chief digital officer Edward Kummer, "we do believe that there are subscription revenue opportunities for us."
As the driver of an ageing estate car whose navigation system can't be upgraded past 2018, I'm very wary of trusting car firms' long-term commitment to in-car tech – and it seems to be the same here, with GM promising that you'll be able to use the likes of Google Maps "at no extra cost for eight years". That's maybe not an issue for the people who'll be buying these vehicles new, but it could be a problem for future owners.
If you already have a GM vehicle with CarPlay, you're not going to lose that feature – GM says it's going to stick with its existing tech for the remaining internal combustion vehicles it intends to make – and you'll still be able to use your phone to make calls or play music over Bluetooth if you'd rather use your phone OS than your car one. But it's clear that for GM at least, in-car entertainment is something they want to keep in-house.