At CES in January, we were introduced to Google's (awkwardly named) Open Automotive Alliance, a group that includes Audi, General Motors, and Honda. Their commitment? To "bring Android platforms to cars" in the form of their Automotive Link.
This week, at the Geneva Auto Show, Apple beat them to the punch, showing off CarPlay. The basic premise of CarPlay (ages 17+) is that it allows you to do everything you would normally do with your iPhone without ever having to take your hands off the wheel. Play music, make phone calls, send and receive text messages, find the quickest route to Ikea, even browse Safari and watch videos. Apple have also said they'll allow third parties to design CarPlay functionality into their apps, increasing the breadth of "infotainment" the system has to offer.
What's more exciting, however, is the potential limitlessness of synergy between car and device. Theoretically, there's nothing you couldn't control by just asking Siri - air conditioning, sunroof, even unlocking the car (though that won't come any time soon, if at all).
However, the lifespan of a car can be an eternity in comparison to that of handheld technologies like smartphones. What Apple (and Google) are attempting to create is a smart in-car system that can remain technologically current and state-of-the-art as the years go by, even when your vehicle becomes old and sad. General opinion is divided on whether they'll accomplish this, but from the very start, you'll have access to your iPhone's message and call functions, music, and Apple Maps.
Ferrari, Hyundai, Jaguar, Mercedes and Volvo have all already made deals to incorporate CarPlay in their new models, with 2014's Volvo XC90 SUV, Mercedes-Benz C-Class and Ferrari FF including the system. Other companies jumping on the bandwagon are BMW, Chevrolet, Ford, KIA, Land Rover, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Opel, Peugeot-Citroen, Subaru, Suzuki and Toyota - so pretty much everyone.
We've yet to see what Google's Allied Forces can do against the iAxis of Innovation, but what's the betting their Automotive Link will be almost identical to CarPlay, but with better maps and a boring name?