Is a New Car Without Apple CarPlay or Android Auto a Dealbreaker?

Phone projection is a standard feature on most new cars. But does it need to be?

Last week we reported that Honda will retrofit last-generation Accords with wireless Apple CarPlay for the owners who’d like it. It’s an effort from the automaker to keep its new-ish cars viable and useful for customers for longer, and it was applauded by a number of you in our comments. After all, if we truly are living in the era of the “software-defined vehicle,” what good is software that can’t be updated or improved over time? That got us thinking, though: How important is CarPlay or Android Auto to you in your automotive purchasing decisions? Is their absence a dealbreaker?

For me, the answer’s “kind of.” Don’t get me wrong: A lack of phone projection tech would never, ever keep me from owning one of my many ’90s dream cars. In such a scenario, there’s also a possibility I could install an aftermarket solution, but to be honest, I don’t even know if I’d go to that trouble, especially if I want to keep things stock.

But if I’m in the market for a new-ish car that’s less aspirational, more practical? A daily driver that’s supposed to be convenient and comfortable, as new cars are? Yeah, you betcha I’d be peeved if I didn’t have CarPlay.

The reason’s simple: Even in this era of automakers hyping up and improving their infotainment systems, using Google’s platform and hiring away software engineers and designers from big tech, they still don’t really understand what easy-to-use software is. Or, they do, but they have their own agendas, pet features, and corporate partnerships to push, at your expense that the tech firms aren’t beholden to. I love that I can plug my iPhone into my car and it makes my vehicle’s navigation and media as simple to use as, well, my iPhone. Yeah, yeah: We all hate smartphones and what they’ve done to us, but those of us who are addicted to them wouldn’t or couldn’t be, if they weren’t intuitive.

So, yeah: I’d rather have Apple or Google dictate my in-car experience, because I find it’s more convenient for me when they do. Confounding, nested menus; laggy map scrolling; and fluff I never touch like nature sounds and SiriusXM radio are instantly out of sight and out of mind, which in turn improves safety on the road. What’s your take, though? Is CarPlay or Android Auto a must-have for your car buying decisions? Tell me and everyone else in the comments.

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