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GM is ditching Android Auto for safety, not subscriptions (Update: GM Statement)
- A General Motors executive has explained why the company is dropping Android Auto and Apple CarPlay.
- The executive claimed that this was due to safety concerns regarding poor wireless connections.
- However, GM previously noted subscription “opportunities” when first announcing the move.
Update, December 13, 2023 (01:45 PM ET): A GM representative has reached out to Android Authority about the news below. Here is GM’s statement:
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.
The original article continues below.
Original article, December 13, 2023 (04:38 AM ET): General Motors (GM) announced earlier this year that it would be dropping Android Auto and Apple CarPlay functionality from its electric vehicles. Now, the company has revealed a purported reason for this decision.
Tim Babbitt, GM’s product lead for infotainment, told Motor Trend that the decision to drop CarPlay and Android Auto was driven (heh) by safety.
Babbitt claimed that Android Auto and Apple CarPlay have stability issues that result in drivers having to pick up their phones, therefore taking their eyes off the road. He noted that these stability issues include bad/dropped connections, slow responses, and “poor rendering.”
GM is offering its Google-powered Ultifi infotainment suite as a replacement. This solution is directly integrated into the car and offers a variety of Google apps (e.g. Maps, Assistant, Play Store) as well as third-party options like Spotify.
Does this reasoning hold water?
Babbitt did acknowledge that a USB connection from the car to a smartphone would address GM’s aforementioned issues. But he also claimed that there would still be some compatibility issues between the car and various Android phone makers. He also asserted that some older iPhones have issues with CarPlay. This would be an inconvenience but surely a list of compatible devices would go some way towards helping consumers?
Either way, I can’t help but feel cynical about car makers offering their own solutions in lieu of Apple and Google’s software. While GM’s own solution will still reportedly offer Bluetooth connectivity so you can pair your phone to your car, we’ve seen a growing movement in the industry towards subscriptions of all kinds. In fact, GM itself acknowledged subscription opportunities when announcing this infotainment switch earlier this year. So I personally wouldn’t be surprised if GM’s solution eventually puts features that previously existed as part of CarPlay and Android Auto behind a paywall.