Volvo reveals its take on Apple CarPlay for new XC90
Volvo has shown how it will integrate Apple CarPlay into its future infotainment systems by releasing details of the upcoming XC90's Sensus touchscreen setup.
The new XC90, which is set for a full reveal later this year ahead of a 2015 release, features a large central touchscreen in the dashboard that takes the place of most buttons for the car's interior controls. This central screen interacts with what Volvo calls its "adaptive digital instrument cluster," which replaces a traditional speedometer and rev-counter. A head up display also projects key information onto the windscreen, and the touchscreen is supplemented by wheel-mounted buttons.
The XC90 will be Volvo's first car to take advantage of CarPlay, and brings the ability to mirror the display of lightning-equipped iOS devices directly onto the dashboard touchscreen, as well as joining the trend for integrating apps like Spotify.
The software allows drivers to control their phone and music through Apple's familiar layout on the dashboard, and Siri is able to read text messages aloud and reply to them, as well as acting as a form of voice control for phone functions. Volvo has not released details about how voice control will interact with the non-Apple aspects of their Sensus setup.
The touchscreen in the dash uses a hierarchy of tiles to organize major functions – when the driver selects a tile, the rest are compressed to give it precedence. In order to prevent users having to navigate layers of menus, Volvo says it has designed the system so that all functions will be easily accessible through these compressed icons. The inclusion of Infrared technology also means the screen should still work if you're wearing gloves.
The Sensus system also packs some new connected features, like the ability to find and pay for parking through the touchscreen in certain markets. As well as Apple's interface, the car uses HERE maps for navigation and can access updates and other services through an "Ericsson-based" cloud system.
Volvo is not the only manufacturer to take up CarPlay. Mercedes, Honda, Hyundai and Ferrari are all listed on Apple's website as up the system in 2014, and it will be interesting to see how they work the software into their own infotainment set ups.
Volvo's promo video below shows the system in action.
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I'm not a huge fan of owning an automobile that closely tied to a specific mobile phone but I'm sure a lot of other people prefer it that way.
There needs to a an International standard for this type of product, both from the physical electronic interface to the layout of the controls so drivers are not distracted trying to find out how to operate them, as is the problem with car radios.
But guess Apple being the nasty company it is (!) would ignore them anyway as they haver done with the standardisation of mobile phone/tablet connectors - or least the sprit behind them.