Connected Car 1.0 CarPlay vs WEBLINK – Let the Phone Drive?

abaltaApple’s CarPlay with its iPhone cache and sleek geek is coming with the same high style and high expense we’ve come to expect with Apple products. However, Apple’s CarPlay isn’t the only infotainment game in town. There is  a simpler, easier way to connect cars to smartphones, developers and people for the rest of the world.

Currently, developing apps for in-car systems is very expensive for the app developer, who is forced to rely on propriety technology, noted Michael O’Shea, CEO of Abalta Technologies. Abalta Technologies’ WEBLINK platform makes it easier for app developers and is less expensive for car makers and audio/infotainment system developers.

In an interview with AUTO Connected car, O’Shea said, “We’re in the Connected Car 1.0 phase. Apple’s announcement is a step forward and exciting…but it could be expensive.”

O’Shea pointed out there is reason why CarPlay will be coming first from high-end luxury car makers like Ferrari and Mercedes.

“CarPlay will likely be found in higher-end cars, at least initially”, said O’Shea. “There are additional costs, for example each car maker will have to embed an Apple approved co-processor.”

He noted that it is unusual that these luxury car makers will be able to deploy CarPlay so quickly, the development cycle for most car head units is four years. O’Shea expects that CarPlay systems will be priced higher for car buyers or included in luxury car prices. It may be years before CarPlay will be deployed in lower-end model cars.

The car manufacturers may not want to spend the high cost of manufacturing cars with CarPlay to keep price points down.

Many of functions of CarPlay can be done on other devices running HTML5 apps. Abalta’s WEBLINK system is far less expensive for automakers to deploy and also much easier for app developers to develop for.

The current app development cost for propriety head units in many cars is very expensive in some cases as much as $200,000.00. Which is why often a head unit may not work with all the apps the driver likes to use on his/her smartphone.

Often the infotainment unit does not always work very well with the latest wireless phones or there is lag time from when a smartphone is released until when it works with the vehicle. When the Lightning-connected iPhone 5 was released there were problems reported with BMW and Toyota infotainment units.

The CarPlay system at start will only work with lightning connectors on iPhone 5/5S/5C. In contrast WEBLINK works through USB, Wi-Fi (Wi-Fi Direct) and Bluetooth which Abalta calls “Future Proof.”

Abalta Technologies  is currently working with car makers and after market radio/infotainment providers to deploy WEBLINK with their motto “Let the phone drive.”

Advantages of WEBLINK over other connected car systems are that it works work with any phone that can run a web browser, the head unit does not require a browser to run and the processing is done on the phone rather than needed a dedicated processor in the head unit.

The image from the phone screen is rendered on the head unit screen which works with the head unit touchscreen, steering wheel or knobs or controls in the car.

Since HTML5 is much easier to develop using HTML, CSS and Javascript it opens up the possibilities for innovation and creativity. The time to develop HTML5 web apps is much faster than Android or iOS. Web HTML5 apps such as Slacker Radio and Parkopedia work with WEBLINK.

When Google announces its car system, O’Shea expects that Google offer some interesting features that will contrast with CarPlay. However, Google’s connected car system most likely will not work with iPhones or iOS.

WEBLINK works with both iPhone and Android with the added benefit that WEBLINK collects no data, the data used by the apps stays in the apps.

Michael O’Shea founded Abalta Technologies in 2003. He worked on Honda’s first GPS system in North America with Alpine Electronics. He also worked at NAVTEQ. At InfoGation, O’Shea designed and implemented a turn-around strategy that resulted in a successful acquisition by BSQUARE.