Review: Apple's CarPlay headed in right direction

May 22 2014, 23:14 IST
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Apple is getting ready to hitch the iPhone to cars in a mobile marriage of convenience. Reuters Apple is getting ready to hitch the iPhone to cars in a mobile marriage of convenience. Reuters
SummaryApple is getting ready to hitch the iPhone to cars in a mobile marriage of convenience.

Spotify, Beats Music and iHeartRadio, are supposed to be eventually available on CarPlay, too. Facebook, YouTube and other apps that show a lot of photos and video won't be available for safety and legal reasons.

The key to CarPlay's success may hinge on Siri, the iPhone's digital personal assistant. Apple has been striving to make Siri smarter and more versatile, an endeavor that CarPlay figures to put to the test.

Siri serves as CarPlay's central nervous system, doing everything from taking email dictation, reading incoming text messages out load, and scrolling through the system for song requests or different genres of music. Summoning Siri can be done by touching a button on the steering wheel or CarPlay's display screen.

While CarPlay also responds to touch, the system is at its best when Siri is doing most of the work. I got only a half-hour demo of CarPlay, too little time to determine whether Siri will be up to the job.

Within minutes of getting in the car, Siri couldn't retrieve the correct address for a requested restaurant in San Francisco. Instead, CarPlay listed several other places with the same name, so Siri apparently at least heard the request correctly. The omission of the requested restaurant may have reflected shortcomings in Apple's database of local businesses.

Beyond that, Siri performed flawlessly reading back incoming texts, composing and sending emails and playing the role of disc jockey when asked to play the music of specific artists such as AC/DC. It took only a few seconds before ''Back in Black'' blasted through the stereo. Even a question about Arnold Schwarzenegger, a name that can be difficult to decipher, didn't stump Siri.

If Siri is able to consistently handle those kinds of challenges, then CarPlay could make the iPhone an even more indispensable mobile device.

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