Joanna Stern of The Wall Street Journal recently got one of those dream assignments for a reporter: driving a 2016 Corvette Stingray convertible for a week ostensibly to see how good the new Apple CarPlay system works.
The Stingray, you may recall, is one of the first cars to get Apple’s new in-dash software, and while it and Siri still have some growing up to do, Stern overall seemed pleased.
By plugging your iPhone (5 or newer) into the Corvette’s USB port, the center screen will show you a recognizable, though stripped-down, version of the phone’s iOS interface. You can then control your phone’s maps, music, messages, and more with taps on the screen or by pushing the steering wheel’s voice button to summon Siri.
“…Unlike some of the market-driven attempts to make the iPhone the center of your home or your body, Apple’s careful, safety-focused integration of the iPhone into the car feels necessary,” Stern writes. “According to the National Safety Council, cellphones are now involved in about a quarter of all car crashes.”
Stern points out that Apple Maps has overcome some of its early problems, though she says it’s still not as good as Google Maps but is “far better” than the factory navigation system on the Corvette.
She was also critical of the car’s touchscreen, saying the controls feel “worse than what you’d find on the back of an airplane seat.” In defense of the Stingray, she did point out that GM said too much screen sensitivity can be a safety concern and that it is working to improve the user experience all around. Maybe we should wait for that 2017 model to come out?
Stern praised Apple’s support for music apps, including Spotify, Rdio, and iHeartRadio. They appear as apps in CarPlay, though using them will take a bite out of your phone’s data plan.
She also was impressed with CarPlay’s handling of text messages, saying it “feels miles ahead of any competition from car makers or even Google.”
When a text comes in, the sender’s name appears on the center screen for 9.5 seconds, and a tap causes Siri to read the message aloud.
While the system isn’t perfect, Stern was impressed enough to say that if she were looking for a new car now, she’d add CarPlay to the option list since she was able to hide her iPhone inside the Corvette’s armrest for a week because Siri was so helpful.
Somehow, though, we have a feeling Stern’s overall experience was helped along by the Stingray’s 455-horsepower engine!