At its 2012 Worldwide Developers Conference, held last June in California, Apple, Inc. showcased the nine automakers that were targeted for integrating Apple products — specifically the iPhone – into their new vehicle models. In the 10 months since, only one automaker has had vehicles on the road with Apple product integration.
Obviously, the automakers have been slow to implement Apple integration — specifically the Siri “Eyes Free.” Whether this is something Apple expected is unknown. However, the problem seems to be long lead times for vehicle products, which, in turn, prevents vehicles from staying up-to-date with electronics; this scenario is especially true for current-generation vehicles that have been in production for the past 10 months.
In other words, it looks like Apple product integration has proved more difficult than planned. The rapidly changing, consumer-electronic technologies are hard to keep up-to-date in vehicles when vehicle technology doesn’t get updated as frequently. This situation clearly makes it difficult for a feature like Siri “Eyes Free,” which allows iPhone users running iOS 6 to have Siri perform many different tasks in the vehicle aside from phone calls and text messages. Conflicts in technology are also sure to arise from different software and hardware available that comes from several manufacturers.
“A car that launches in the 2014 model year was [designed] up to five years ago.” said Sara LeBlanc, General Motor’s program manager for MyLink in the Spark and Sonic, during her recent interview with Wired magazine.
LeBlanc continued, “If it’s a new vehicle, they might be able to set up the [software] so it knows when to use Siri and when to use the [embedded] voice rec. And, it isn’t like you can figure out the coding for one radio and read it across to the other ones. If it’s already in production, then it’s even more complicated.”
Until now, GM continued to be the only automaker with vehicles on the road that have Siri “Eyes Free” integration. The Chevrolet Spark and Chevrolet Sonic are entry-level subcompact vehicles targeted at technologically connected, urban young adults. Mercedes-Benz, which has been Apple-product friendly, is set to roll out “Eyes Free” near the end of this month in an add-on accessory, the Drive Kit Plus for iPhone. American Honda is expected to have three models with the feature by this summer — the 2013 Honda Accord and the Acura RDX and ILX models.
As for the remaining five automakers mentioned at the 2012 Worldwide Developers Conference, none have given a timetable for “Eyes Free” integration. BMW, Audi, Chrysler, Jaguar/Land Rover and Toyota recently gave statements to Wired that ranged from “no announcements at this time” to being unable to discuss future products.