car (1)Apple announced this week that eight new automakers had signed up for CarPlay, Apple’s new system for integrating 5th generation iPhones into vehicle dashboards. First adopted by luxury players Mercedes-Benz and Ferrari, CarPlay is now coming to 29 auto brands including Abarth, Alfa Romeo, Chrysler, Dodge, Fiat, Jeep, Mazda, and RAM.

 

Other options for connecting phones to cars are Google’s Open Link (announced but not released) and brand apps, which 48% of brands in the L2 Digital IQ Index: Auto have invested in with mixed results. (Even Genius brand Mercedes-Benz’s mbrace received a two-star review on iTunes. Tesla is the exception with 4.5 stars.)

 

So far, the reviews for CarPlay have been fantastic. Apple has upgraded Siri to recognize even complicated word prompts and seamlessly make calls (in the half hour that professional reviewers were allowed to test the system). It is also further along than Google, which announced its entry in car-connectivity after Apple. Google has the benefit of a more established map system and Google Now to notify users of weather conditions and road hazards.

 

Apple is in a better position to win, if only for its experience connecting the iPhone, iPad, Apple TV, and other new devices. And the results of this competition could be a boost for one of the smartphone manufacturers.

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