GM scraps Apple CarPlay and Android Auto to sell more subscriptions

General Motors has revealed its plan to scrap Android Auto and Apple CarPlay smartphone connectivity from its electric vehicles. However, Google will be providing its Android Automotive infotainment system to GM. The General wants to gather more data from its users and also aims to sell them subscription services to use some apps or connectivity features.

Smartphone connectivity to their cars via Android Auto or Apple CarPlay can be beneficial for users. No need to navigate the sometimes clunky infotainment system of the vehicle, and no need to set up any shortcuts or preferences when driving a different car. Connect your phone via cable or Bluetooth, and your favorite apps are already logged in with a familiar, easy-to-use interface.

Data gathering opportunities

But for manufacturers, this duopoly between Apple and Google in the in-car infotainment space seems less beneficial, even though the tech giants are not charging for this functionality. Moreover, with the smartphone projection simply providing a display and audio link to the built-in screen, with limited data transfer, manufacturers are losing out on lucrative data-gathering opportunities.

That is the reasoning behind GM’s bizarre decision to scrap smartphone connectivity via CarPlay or Android Auto in its future EVs, starting with the 2024 Chevrolet Blazer EV. But, paradoxically, GM combustion-powered models will still feature smartphone connectivity, using a different infotainment system.

However, Google is not losing out as much as GM is using its Android Automotive OS for its infotainment systems, meaning that Google apps like Maps will be built into the cars. Users (formerly known as drivers) can, therefore, log into their Google account(s) to have the same or similar benefits to Android Auto smartphone connectivity.

The 2024 Chevrolet Blazer EV is the first model to omit smartphone connectivity in favor of a built-in Android solution, although combustion models will retain the functionality /Chevrolet

Subscription fees

GM justifies this decision to its customers by stating that its SuperCruise driving assistant features will benefit from the additional data gathered. Still, chief digital officer Edward Kummer also told Reuters that “we do believe there are subscription revenue opportunities for us”.

Google apps like Maps and Google Assistant will be offered to customers for free for eight years, after which they might be forced to pay a subscription fee to continue to have this functionality, which is not the case if they could connect their smartphone with these features built-in instead.

Other manufacturers not offering Apple CarPlay or Android Auto include Rivian and Tesla, which have a more powerful and feature-rich infotainment system than most other manufacturers.

It remains to be seen if GM can offer its customers the same in return for taking away this feature and if customers will even stand for this change. GM could also implement CarPlay as an over-the-air update to the Android Automotive OS like Polestar has done in the past.


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