India is still looked at as a developing market for several big tech players. We have seen plenty of good stuff in the past that did not make way to India. Take example of Google Glass dev editions, Chromecast or even some of the smartwatch like Pebble or Electric cars which did not see a commercial breakout that maybe the US or some of the other European countries did. India is still looked as a budget market and the prime example of this is a device like Nokia X, which is solely aimed at Southern Asian market. So no way, does something like Carplay would fit into the big plans of the tech decision makers as far India is concerned, in the short term.
What exactly is Apple Carplay?
Apple debuted an in-car infotainment system, called the Apple Carplay at the Geneva Motorshow in 2014 with some of the leading car manufacturers like Volvo, BMW, Nissan, Kia etc. Apple Carplay basically is an interface that comes in the car pre-installed, which allows you to interact with apps on your iPhone, when you plug it in the system of your car via USB, on a large touchscreen that lives on the dashboard. Once you connect your iPhone to the car, you can use the inbuilt display in the car for selecting the music you want to play, or look up the Apple maps if you do not know your way around or just to answer phone calls. Not just this, there is also a Siri button on the steering wheel which allows you to interact with Carplay using your voice. The big deal was that how Apple was able to sign up the deal with pretty much every major automobile manufacturer. This is exactly what makes us believe that Apple Carplay could be the big game changer in the way we interact with our smartphones in our cars. We had even shared a video on our Facebook page for the same. However, after that it got us thinking whether this changes anything for India? And we could not come up with one thing. On the contrary, there were several reasons why we feel Apple Carplay makes no difference in India. Here are some of them:
Apple Carplay is for the Mercedes and Ferraris of this world; not the Marutis
According to a report published in WSJ, major US car manufacturers and players are pretty much absent in India. Apple being an American company would obviously go ahead and work on partnerships with the big American or global players first. Seeing the big players in Indian market are the Marutis, Tatas and Mahindras, it is nothing beyond a dream to see some of those car to come with Apple Carplay. The real luxury cars that would bring the system definitely do not have a place in the mainstream Indian automobile market and belong to the most elite who posses immense importing power thanks to magnetic dollars. So your average Ram and Shyam who make up at least 80% of the population if not more, would not be able to enjoy this experience.
You buy the car, newer updates come, technology evolves, its just been few years what next?
If you have a smartphone that you bought say two years ago, and compared it to the features and functionalities today, there is a difference of light years cause technology has rapidly progressed. Phones as compared to cars are inexpensive and you can change one every year or perhaps two at a stretch. A vehicle, usually a top grade one is an investment for six to seven years. Imagine how much more the technology would evolve and if you are willing to be stuck on a hardware that is several years old. Agreed most of these systems will be well supported with updates on software front as Apple has great history of doing that, but the limitations of hardware would definitely pull things down. Not just this, even in it’s current avatar the Apple Carplay only supports iPhone 5,5c and 5s, there is a fat chance that going forward only the latest iPhones would be supported and not the previous generation which always seem to flood the Indian market in terms of volumes more than the latest flagship. (image:techradar)
Siri still has a tough time understanding us
As much as Siri has evolved, it still has a trouble deciphering the Indian accent. Now imagine, you have this fancy amazing car and Apple Carplay installed and all good to go, and you press the Siri button to interact with the system so you could play your favorite Lata Mangeshkar track, very high probability that it simply would not work. So, unless Apple is willing to specifically work and design the whole thing for a very Indian experience, it is tough to see how well the carplay would work as long as you have a day to day Indian accent and not one of those adapted British or American one.
Apple maps do not work in India
As of now, you are heavily relying on Apple maps to drive you around the city when you are using Apple carplay in cars. As far as my personal experience of using Apple maps in India goes, its been unapologetically unforgiving! And since, there is no Google maps for it right now, you are left with a half baked system which does not really show you the right ways to your destination. Sure, Apple are going to open the SDKs to the devs and there will be third party apps that will come into play, but do you think Google’s ecosystem will be allowed into it? Not so sure about that. (image:techradar)
As much as we love the idea of interacting with your phone without actually touching it and the added safety that a system like Apple Carplay would bring, we just cannot see the technology hitting India and booming along. Even if it does sometime in future, it would cost a bomb and something not an average Joe could afford in India. So, while things are fancy and beautiful and to an extent very intuitive, you can kind of say, that at least in the close foreseeable future, this is a no deal as far as India is concerned.
What do you feel about this? Do you agree with us or have a different point of view, do let us know in the section below.