Apple’s CarPlay is powered by BlackBerry’s QNX

Mercedes-Benz (CarPlay 002)

Monday, at the Geneva Motor Show, Apple’s in-car system previously known under the ‘iOS in the Car’ moniker got formally announced and rebranded as CarPlay. Launch partners Volvo, Ferrari, and Mercedez-Benz backed the feature as dozens of vendors pledged to support CarPlay in their upcoming vehicles later this year.

Volvo confirmed that CarPlay’s connection and video mirroring functionality is based on a streaming H.264 video feed, prompting watchers to speculate that the feature is based on AirPlay, an Apple-designed media streaming technology.

In a rather surprising find earlier today, N4BB was able to confirm that CarPlay runs on QNX, an operating system the embattled Canadian smartphone maker BlackBerry acquired Harman International Industries back in 2010…

N4BB quotes QNX’s Paul Leroux who told the blog that his firm’s software indeed powers Apple’s CarPlay feature:

Connectivity to smartphones and other mobile devices is a key strength of QNX Software Systems’ platform for car infotainment systems, and many automakers and tier one automotive suppliers use our platform to implement smartphone/head-unit integration in their vehicles.

We have a long-standing partnership with Apple to ensure high-quality connectivity with their devices, and this partnership extends to support for Apple CarPlay.

That Apple is QNX’s strategic partner in automotive is confirmed by the QNX website.

By the time QNX Software Systems sold out to Harman International Industries back in 2004, it already made a name for itself as a widely used software provider in the automotive industry for telematics, infotainment and navigation systems.

As of mid-2011, the QNX CAR Application Platform powered more than twenty million vehicles. The company has since released several middleware products including the QNX Aviage Multimedia Suite, the QNX Aviage Acoustic Processing Suite and the QNX HMI Suite.

This isn’t saying CarPlay is 100 percent QNX.

Although Leroux stopped short of providing the specifics, iOS is still at the core of the feature as Apple is only tapping QNX’s in-car connectivity features.

Be that as it may, this is still quite an unexpected turn of events.

BlackBerry is of course a rival and its failed PlayBook tablet ran QNX. Moreover, devices running the BlackBerry 10 operating system are also QNX based.

I’m still flabbergasted that Apple partnered with BlackBerry on such an important product of its own.