After launching product category defining devices with the iPhone and the iPad, Apple is seeing its market share slowly erode in the mobile device market and profits are slowing as a result.
So it must turn its focus to new frontiers to regain its dominant position and please shareholders. The car makes the most sense, when you think about it as a mobile device on wheels.
What’s more, the in-car infotainment systems have been becoming more akin to tablets and smartphones in the past several years.
Touch screens take their place in centre stacks, offering up apps and Web connectivity to drivers. Apple rivals BlackBerry (with its Ottawa-based QNX acquisition) and Google (with its Android OS) have already made in-roads to the in-car market.
So it was only a matter of time until Apple unveiled an iCar system. It did so at its Worldwide Developers Conference in San Francisco last month. In it’s July earnings report conference call, Apple CEO Tim Cook described iOS in the Car as “very important.”
“It’s something that people want. And I think that Apple can do this in a unique way,” he said.
Intelligent routing and traffic reports
Thanks to the new Apple Maps built-in app, iOS in the car will be able to not only navigate drivers to their destination, but show what the traffic will be like on the way there. Traffic jams will show up as red dotted lines and iOS will adjust your estimated arrival time at your destination accordingly.
We’re all familiar with Siri by now, Apple’s so-called “personal assistant” that it embeds in iOS. That capability will come in particularly helpful to drivers who need to keep their hands on the wheel. Tell Siri to “play my voicemail” to hear the calls you missed, then direct Siri to call those people back. You can chat over the car’s speakerphone while you keep your focus on driving.
Stereo with unlimited options
Thanks to Apple’s iPod legacy, iOS in the car will have some killer audio options. You may never turn on AM/FM radio again once you tap into iTunes Radio. Apple’s new streaming service launching this fall will peer at your iTunes library to see what you’re listening to now, and then automatically stream a personalized music service to you. You can listen to it for free and hear the occasional ad, or subscribe to iTunes Match, a cloud service that will make your entire music collection no matter where you are – and learn your preferences even better.
You’ll also be able to access audiobooks, podcasts, third-party streaming radio apps, and of course your own collection of mp3s.
Hands-free text messages
Normally you’re not really in a position to respond to a text message while driving. But iOS in the car will give you the option to respond. Text messages and iMessages a like will pop-up in a notification bar along the top of your screen. You’ll be able to have Siri read that message back to you over your car’s speakers. Then you can dictate a message to Siri to respond. All without losing track of your GPS navigation too.