Weekly Brief: Apple Automotive Buzz Builds with New Smart Watch

Weekly Brief: Apple Automotive Buzz Builds with New Smart Watch

In this week’s Brief: Apple, BMW, BMWBLOG, Samsung, International Consumer Electronics Fair, Ferrari, Geneva Motor Show, Audi, Volvo, Mercedes-Benz, Super Mobility Week, GM, Gigaom, Audi of America, AT&T, Nokia HERE, Google, Apple, Tata Motors, Microlise, Airbiquity, Reuters, Yelp, Arynga and Autonet Mobile.

All eyes turned to Cupertino, California, last week for what was expected to be the unveiling of the much-awaited iPhone 6. We got that, but in the end it turned out to be the sideline show, as Apple’s CEO pulled the cloak off the even-more-long-awaited Apple Watch, a smart watch that does everything from tell time to track health statistics to allow users to check the weather, e-mail and social media posts.

BMW was the first carmaker to jump on the Apple Watch bandwagon, as its BMW i-Remote App, which supplies location and charging level information for the BMW i3, will be available on the Apple Watch when it comes out early next year — that according to sources referenced by the BMWBLOG. A day before the Apple Watch revelation, BMW debuted the i-Remote App working on the Samsung Gear S smart watch at the International Consumer Electronics Fair in Berlin.

Sticking with Apple, the first car with Apple CarPlay baked into the dashboard has officially shipped according to Ferrari, whose 2015 Ferrari FF is on its way to select (and deep-pocketed) customers around Europe. Ferrari was the first carmaker to display a working vehicle with Apple CarPlay back in March 2014 at the Geneva Motor Show. A host of other carmakers committed to CarPlay at the time as well, including Audi, Volvo and Mercedes-Benz, but when their first integrated models will ship is anyone’s guess. For now, buying a CarPlay-integrated car will set you back a smooth $300,000.

Meanwhile at Super Mobility Week in Las Vegas, GM went on record with Gigaom stating that it is significantly narrowing the focus of development via its own infotainment systems — MyLink, CUE and IntelliLink — and going with an Apple CarPlay and Android Auto strategy instead. GM’s infotainment systems won’t disappear, mind you, and will still be present for core vehicle apps that relate to vehicle sensors and engine data, but anything beyond will stream through the Apple or Google user-interfaces. The reason? Less redundancy. Happier developers. More time to focus on core vehicle apps.

In other news, Audi of America and AT&T announced that owners of Audi 2015 models equipped with Audi connect will be able to pay for data in their cars via their AT&T Mobile Share Value Plans. The access charge will be $10, the same price that AT&T charges to add a tablet to an existing plan. With Mobile Share Value added to the list of current plans, Audi drivers can elect to dedicate data exclusively to their vehicles or spread it among a number of different devices or family members.

In Nokia HERE’s first big move post the departure of its CEO Michael Halbherr, the company announced that it plans to release a free map app for Android and iOS late this year. This is interesting because, as we reported several weeks ago, Halbherr was widely believed to be forced out due to his failed consumer-first strategy and it seemed probable that the company would return to a more heavily enterprise-first strategy moving forward. That analysis seems to be thrown into question, as this move puts HERE right back into battle on the consumer front with rival map apps from Google and Apple. The HERE app’s signature differentiator is that it works without internet connection.

In fleet, news surfaced out of India last week that India’s largest commercial vehicles manufacturer, Tata Motors, will integrate advanced fleet management and telematics solutions across its commercial vehicle line. The company has partnered with European fleet management provider Microlise for the solutions and will market them through original equipment fitment as well as through the aftermarket route.


Airbiquity added two additional premium content providers, Reuters and Yelp, to its Choreo cloud-based connected car services delivery platform. With these integrations, both Reuters, the world's largest multimedia news provider, and Yelp, the company that connects consumers with local businesses, will be made available to Airbiquity’s automotive manufacturer customers deploying the Driver Experience infotainment delivery offering.

Finally, we’ve talked a lot over the past couple years about the need for improved over-the-air updates, as carmakers try to shift from the slow vehicle-production cycle to the fast consumer-electronics cycle to keep connected platforms up to speed. To that end, Arynga, Inc., which specializes in intelligent vehicle software management solutions, teamed up with Autonet Mobile to create a complete and production ready solution for remote update, management, and maintenance of connected vehicles. The solution will integrate Autonet Mobile’s TRU Technology Platform with Arynga’s CarSync platform, increasing the functionality to remotely update and maintain the integrity of software and firmware within connected vehicles. Arynga and Autonet plan to target OEMs and Tier 1 suppliers.

The Weekly Brief is a round-up of the week’s top telematics news, combining TU analysis with information from industry press releases.

Asif Naqvi is a regular TU contributor.


For all the latest telematics trends, check out Telematics Brazil & LATAM 2014 on September 24-25, Sao Paulo, Brazil, Telematics West Coast 2014 on October 30-31 in San Diego, USA, Telematics Munich 2014 on November 10-11 in Munich, Germany, Connected Fleets USA on November 20-21 in Atlanta, USA and Consumer Telematics Show 2015, January 5 in Las Vegas.

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