Chevrolet will have 14 cars in its 2016 model year with Apple CarPlay compatibility, General Motors CEO Mary Barra announced at the Code conference in Rancho Palos Verdes, Calif., on Wednesday. This will be the largest number of vehicles from any automaker so far to feature Apple's smartphone-car solution.
The compatible models range from the entry-level Spark hatchback to the hulking Suburban, offering choices in every category of car Chevrolet sells. "We're going big and expect big things for this year," said Chevrolet's Dan Kinney at a press event in San Francisco on Tuesday. The 14 cars listed accounted for 2.4 million units sold in 2014, Kinney added.
The specific 2016 models with Apple CarPlay compatibility will be:
- Camaro and Camaro Convertible
- Corvette and Corvette Convertible
- Silverado and Silverado HD
Why this matters: Apple CarPlay offers a much safer way to use your phone in your car than perching it on your thigh or sticking it onto your windshield with a suction cup. (You know who you are.) General Motors has made a point of being early with 4G LTE connectivity and other new technologies, so the automaker's positioned to grab early adopters who also happen to be in the market for a new car.
From the Spark to the Suburban
Up to now, Apple CarPlay's been available in a Ferrari and Pioneer's NEX infotainment systems, but Chevrolet's the first major automaker to announce specific compatible models. Kinney said it took a lot of advance planning to prepare the infotainment systems. "We had to make sure the hardware can handle it," he explained: "We had to work on touch latency, provide a good color gamut, and build in capacitive touchscreens."
Kinney also hinted enticingly at infotainment advances to come. "As phones get more powerful, you may see larger screens in our cars," Kinney said. "Right now phones cannot drive a larger display in size or resolution, but we've told them we're ready."
Chevrolet isn't just sticking Apple CarPlay in the car and saying Mission Accomplished, either. The company is setting up technical support to help car buyers get comfortable with the new technology, from phone assistance to onsite help at selected dealerships, which will have dedicated Connection Centers with trained staff.
The company also announced that all the listed models would have Android Auto compatibility, but in 7-inch infotainment systems first and 8-inch systems later. Note that while both Android Auto and Apple CarPlay will be available in the cars, you'll be able to use only one of them with one phone at any one time. Will that ever change? "We're working on that," Kinney promised, but Google and Apple probably have a say in this as well.