Apple CarPlay: Big Help or Big Distraction?

Leaps and bounds in technology have provided us tools that we seemingly couldn’t live without — none more so than the iPhone. So when Apple unveiled its on-the-go CarPlay connectivity feature last month in Geneva, it was met with great excitement as well as concerns from the industry. Billed by Apple as “a smarter, safer way to use your iPhone in the car,” CarPlay allows iPhone 5 users to seamlessly integrate their phone and selected apps into the car’s infotainment system. Ferrari, Honda, Hyundai, Mercedes-Benz, and Volvo have already added CarPlay to some of their 2014 models, while over a dozen other brands will follow suit shortly. The system specifically targets driver accessibility to make calls, send texts, find directions, and play music. Judging by demonstrations and the product’s familiar design, it should perform quite well. RELATED: Apple CarPlay is an iOS for Future Volvos CarPlay integrates serious virtual acumen into how it aids in navigation. The new Maps app can work like a normal GPS, but can also predict where you want to go using addresses from email, texts, calendar entries, or contacts – a bit “Big Brother” but undoubtedly handy. Sending texts, placing calls, and selecting music can all be handled verbally by Siri, which helps drivers keep both eyes firmly on the road.
Apple CarPlay: Big Help or Big Distraction?
But through the integration of this technology and other systems like it, carmakers are effectively allowing drivers to shift the focus from motoring to multi-tasking. Companies like Ford and GM have been offering optional infotainment systems for years, but the widespread use of the iPhone and the mass appeal of extra connectivity has brought the issue to the world stage. Not everyone is a fan. “The auto industry and the consumer electronics industry are really in an arms race to see how we can enable drivers to do stuff other than driving,” commented David Teater, senior director at the National Safety Council, in an interview with CNN Money. “We’re very, very concerned about it.” The number of phone-related car accidents has decreased over the past decade, however many critics don’t believe the trend weakens the issue. RELATED: 'Selfies While Driving' Causing Increase in Teen Accidents “The idea that people want to be on their phones, and therefore let’s give them a way to do that – that’s not putting safety first, that’s putting convenience and the desire to be in touch first,” said Bruce Hamilton, manager of research and communications at the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. Extensive testing by both government and private groups will undoubtedly deliver a mixed verdict over the coming months and years, but the safety concerns have shed light on a touchy issue for our society. We’ve come to a point where transportation isn’t merely about driving from one place to another, but has become about multitasking in motion. What are we saying about ourselves if we can’t “unplug” for a 30-minute drive into work, or even a 5-minute pop down to the shops?

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