Apple CarPlay Agrees to Play Nice With Google Maps, Waze

Imagine asking a little kid to say he or she is sorry and, finally, after much cajoling and waiting, they admit it under their breath, staring at the ground. That's basically what Apple has done in announcing that future versions of Apple CarPlay, the tech giant's highly regarded automobile infotainment interface, are finally going to play nice with third-party navigation systems.

Related: Is BMW's Apple CarPlay Subscription a Model for the Future?

What might those third-party app systems be? Well, Google Maps and Waze certainly spring immediately to mind — though only begrudgingly so, at least if you're an Apple engineer or coder.

Apple buried the announcement in a larger presentation regarding the company's new iOS 12 operating system. How buried was this bit of news? Well, let's just say that iPhone emoji functions that include "tongue detection to capture even more expressions" got several paragraphs and a few images devoted to it. The fact that you'll no longer have to fiddle with Apple's much-maligned Apple Maps program in CarPlay was summed up in exactly 21 words, found in a bullet-point list of features.

Here it is, verbatim from Apple's press release: "CarPlay adds support for third-party navigation apps displayed right on the car's dash — joining music, messaging, calling and automaker apps."

While it might seem trivial, many car buyers want the ease and comfort that comes with having a car infotainment system that's compatible with their smartphone - iPhone or Android. We've devoted entire stories to identifying the cars and trucks that have Apple CarPlay and Android Auto app compatibility as standard equipment, or at least available as an option.

We've also devoted stories to testing the user friendliness of both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto's map functions, and the loser in the scenario decidedly was Apple. Cars.com reviewer Kelsey Mays wrote in 2015 that Google Maps, by and large, reproduced the smartphone experience for in-car navigation, but "Apple Maps is significantly worse," Mays stated. "Gone are the pinching and swiping, replaced by old-school onscreen buttons to creep — slowly — around your location and zoom in or out in halting steps. You can still tell Siri app where you want to go and get a route with turn-by-turn directions, but something was lost in translation."

While simpler items like power door locks and air conditioning were the deal breakers for past generations of car shoppers, having a vehicle that easily pairs to a smartphone is one of the most important features for today's car buyer. Being able to use your preferred navigation app, be it Waze or another app option, matters to buyers. That's what makes Apple's iOS announcement that CarPlay will be compatible with other navigation system apps big news - even if it was in small print.

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