Developers say CarPlay is fairly easy to integrate into third-party apps

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Since Apple introduced CarPlay earlier this week, it seems like it’s all anyone can talk about. We know that the feature runs on BlackBerry’s QNX platform, we know that it’s going to launch first in Volvo, Ferrari and Mercedes Benz vehicles, and we know that aftermarket solutions will be available.

But what about third-party software support? According to a new report, driver safety is Apple’s main concern right now, so it’s taking a “slow and steady” approach with the CarPlay API. But the good news is, when it does grant devs access, the feature will be fairly easy to integrate into existing apps…

In an interview with Fast Company, the president of Digital for Clear Channel Media and Entertainment Brian Lakamp spoke about his experience integrating iHeartRadio with CarPlay. Clear Channel oversees the popular music app, which was one of just a few that Apple gave early CarPlay access to.

“Apple is pretty selective about how they disclose information,” says Lakamp. “Apple made us aware of the opportunity. We were enthusiastic to participate and then worked closely with them to build the demo that they just demoed in Geneva.”

“The way that Apple constructed this is a relatively thin layer that we need to build to copy existing apps that move some of the control and command structure to the console,” Lakamp says. “Then the console simply acts as a remote control to your app. It was a relatively light integration.”

Without giving specific dates, Lakamp said that the integration was ‘fairly quick’ for them. He reiterated that Apple has done a good job of laying the foundation  and said his team spent a majority of their time on custom integrations, thinking about how you keep an experience both functional and safe.


As for when other third-party developers will be able to integrate CarPlay into their own apps, it could be a while. In addition to speaking with Lakamp, Fast Company was also able to get an Apple employee with knowledge of the company’s plans to divulge a few details on the future of the platform.

“The reasoning behind the limited access, according to an Apple employee with knowledge of the plans who spoke to me on the condition of anonymity, is because Apple wants to go “slow and steady” with CarPlay. The employee stressed safety behind the wheel was a major concern, but wouldn’t comment if more developers might get access to CarPlay’s private APIs once iOS 7.1 ships. We may have to wait for WWDC in June to find out.”

CarPlay launches this week in the 2014 model vehicles of three manufacturers, and will be available in dozens more by year’s end including BMW Group, Ford, Honda, Hyundai, and Jaguar Land Rover. Third-party app support is limited right now to just Spotify, iHeartRadio, Beats Radio and Stitcher Radio.