DETROIT — Chevrolet hopes to take the lead in smartphone-car connectivity by making your choice of Apple Car Play or Google Android Auto available in 14 of its 2016 models, beginning this summer. The technology, which links smartphones with either operating system, will display your Apple iPhone or Android smartphone apps — except the ones that have video — on models equipped with Chevy’s MyLink system, which includes a 7- or 8-inch center console display screen. The feature rolls out this coming model year in Chevrolets sold worldwide.
The MyLink feature generally is included in popular mid-trim levels and above, and Car Play and Android Auto will be available in the 2016 Chevrolet Cruze, Camaro, Malibu, Volt, and Spark, and nine other nameplates. The new Chevy Cruze makes its debut June 24.
The Chevy Spark, Cruze, Malibu, Camaro, Silverado, and Silverado HD come with 7-inch MyLink infotainment screens, while the 8-inch screens are available on Impala, Volt, Corvette, Colorado, Tahoe, and Suburban, as well as Cruze, Malibu, Camaro, Silverado, and Silverado HD.
Among the key benefits, the new connectivity will allow your navigation system to travel in and out of the car with you, it will allow hands-free text messaging using voice-recognition systems, it will integrate contacts and calendars, and it will allow simple access to your favorite media apps, says Alicia Boler-Davis, General Motors’ senior vice president for global connected customer service. CarPlay and Android Auto will not embed your smartphone apps in the car.
The system includes OnStar with deeper vehicle integration for diagnostics, crash support, and other features, plus remote access to the vehicle via a remote app. You may connect your smartphone to the Internet via Chevy’s system by using either your telephone data connection or via GM’s 4G LTE service via OnStar, which entails a monthly fee. GM’s MyLink is required for the CarPlay or Android Auto, though paying for a 4G LTE connection is not, says Saejin Park, Chevy’s director for innovation and portfolio planning.
GM is likely to include CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity on 2016 models from Cadillac, Buick, and GMC, though Wednesday’s announcement belongs to Chevy alone. There are no details from any of the other divisions.
Chevrolet touts the service as a safer way to use your smartphone while driving, because of the screen display of smartphone apps and the availability of voice-activated calling and texting.
“Customers want it,” Boler-Davis says.
The connectivity feature could make car-based navigation systems superfluous, though you can use CarPlay or Android Auto both in Chevrolets with or without built-in nav systems. Built-in navigation won’t become outdated however, as it’s a key technology enabling semi-automated and autonomous driving in the future, which will give drivers more safe, free time to operate their smartphones while behind the wheel.