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I’m sure GM’s decision to ditch CarPlay will backfire, and I’m here for the chaos

Published Dec 13th, 2023 8:47AM EST
Apple CarPlay tricks displayed in a Tesla Model S
Image: Jonathan S. Geller

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Early this year, BGR reported that GM planned to ditch Apple CarPlay for its EVs starting in 2024. Of course, customers weren’t happy with this decision, as offering a good CarPlay/Android Auto experience is one of the key features users look for in a new car.

With 2024 rapidly approaching, the company must have felt that its loyal customers weren’t happy and decided to explain why it’s ditching CarPlay and Android Auto — claiming that the move is being made for your safety.

To Motor Trend, Tim Babbitt, GM’s head of product for infotainment, said that driver distraction caused by cell phone usage behind the wheel is a major concern for the automaker. “CarPlay and Android Auto have stability issues that manifest themselves as bad connections, poor rendering, slow responses and dropped connections. And when CarPlay and Android Auto have issues, drivers pick up their phones again, taking their eyes off the road and totally defeating the purpose of these phone-mirroring programs,” explains the publication.

To fix that, GM is ditching CarPlay for its Ultifi infotainment software, which integrates Google apps, Spotify, Audible, and Google Assistant. Babbit believes that an in-house solution is better than a wireless or physical connection, as “Android phones are prone to compatibility issues between the vehicle,” while “iPhones suffer from backward compatibility issues that cause older iPhone models to have trouble running CarPlay consistently.”

GM against CarPlay: It’s all about the data and money

You can go to Motor Trend and read everything GM’s executive told the publication, but the real reason GM is ditching CarPlay and Android Auto is more straightforward: data and money. If the automaker can understand how people use their cars, how they drive, what they listen to, what they search, and where they go, GM can use this data in so many ways – sell ads, sell “benefits,” and whatever.

In addition, the company has already stated that charging a subscription for its service is also in the works, so eventually, you’ll need to pay to use Google Maps, Spotify, and its Ultifi infotainment software. Isn’t it great?

I don’t own a GM car, and I’m not into the automotive market, but as a tech reporter, I know a thing or two. Usually, these infotainment systems offer poor-quality touch displays, and the processor that powers them is just terrible.

For example, why do you think we are buying more TVs than ever? Eventually, their processor becomes so slow that you can’t connect to the internet, watch your Netflix, or do anything else. I’m pretty sure an iPhone 11 offering a CarPlay experience is more reliable than what GM is trying to make.

Voice assistants aren’t there. And a new infotainment system isn’t going to be released with no issues. I think GM is taking a considerable risk, and I’m not sure it will pay off.

Wrap up

That said, I hope I’m wrong, and GM offers a one-of-a-kind infotainment system that will exceed everyone’s expectations. But, at the same time, I wished GM and other automakers offered built-in CarPlay and Android Auto options. This is what customers want, and this is the reliable experience they’re used to.

Instead of blaming Apple, just add a better display with a decent processor and let CarPlay do the rest. I’m sure it’s safer and more reliable, and users would be pleased. Let’s see how this story unfolds.

Update: GM sent a statement to BGR about reports saying the company is ditching CarPlay and Android Auto. Although its new EVs won’t feature third-party infotainment options, its other vehicles maintain the partnership.

We wanted to reach out to clarify that comments about GM’s position on phone projection were misrepresented in previous articles and to reinforce our valued partnerships with Apple and Google and each company’s commitment to driver safety. GM’s embedded infotainment strategy is driven by the benefits of having a system that allows for greater integration with the larger GM ecosystem and vehicles.

José Adorno Tech News Reporter

José is a Tech News Reporter at BGR. He has previously covered Apple and iPhone news for 9to5Mac, and was a producer and web editor for Latin America broadcaster TV Globo. He is based out of Brazil.