Volkswagen Claims Apple Forbid Them to Show Wireless CarPlay at CES 2016

Volkswagen with Apple CarPlay 1 photo
Photo: Volkswagen
The Apple CarPlay and Android Auto technologies are a beautiful example of the openness showed by carmakers to tech companies for the benefit of consumers.
However, there are boundaries to this friendship for the sake of clients, as Car&Driver reveals. Apparently, Volkswagen planned to showcase its wireless connection for the CarPlay technology at CES 2016. However, they didn’t get to do that, reportedly because the owner of the system didn’t allow it. The statement comes from Volkmar Tannerberger, Volkswagen’s Head of Electrical and Electronic Development.

Currently, there isn’t a single car compatible with Apple CarPlay that allows the wireless operation of the system. To take advantage of this feature, a user must have the iPhone connected to the car with its cable and turn on the device’s Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connections. Volkswagen would have been the first carmaker to offer this feature had it been allowed to showcase it at the CES 2016 event.

For now, it’s unclear if Volkswagen’s new multimedia systems will have this feature activated for regular customers, since the carmaker itself wasn’t allowed to demonstrate it.

Curiously, both Apple CarPlay-enabled cars and iPhones running iOS 9 are capable of operating the system wirelessly. After all, they have all the physical technologies necessary for this feat of engineering to happen, but are limited by a prominent software restriction.

Apple users who have attempted to send images or files through Bluetooth know what we’re talking about here. Sure, sending and receiving stuff over Bluetooth could be a safety risk for user-to-user transfers, but this shouldn’t be an issue when a passcode is used and the user connects to the vehicle’s own OEM multimedia system.

As Car&Driver notes, such wireless connectivity systems do put a toll on phone batteries, so using Apple CarPlay for a longer time in your car without the smartphone being plugged in could result in depleting the battery. If the system is being used with its current limitations, the user gets out of his or her car with a higher battery level than what they had when they came in, so that’s an inherent bonus for the current rules of use for this technology.

Volkswagen’s representatives already stated that they see the best use of this capability with phones that have wireless charging available. As most of you know, wireless charging isn’t available on iPhones, so Apple might have another issue with this system.

Everyone’s best guess on the reason why Apple reportedly didn’t allow Volkswagen to do their demonstration at CES 2016 would be that the Cupertino giant is planning on making the announcement on its own, through its usual keynote speeches or at the Worldwide Developer Conference. After all, everybody knows the company’s view on presentations after seeing the two Steve Jobs movies.

The other reason for the demonstration ban would be a potential auto partner of Apple’s that would want to be the first to release this technology on its cars before anyone else.
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About the author: Sebastian Toma
Sebastian Toma profile photo

Sebastian's love for cars began at a young age. Little did he know that a career would emerge from this passion (and that it would not, sadly, involve being a professional racecar driver). In over fourteen years, he got behind the wheel of several hundred vehicles and in the offices of the most important car publications in his homeland.
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