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2015 Hyundai Sonata: A Refined Entry In A Crowded Segment

CarPlay And Android Auto, Coming Soon

We live in an interesting time for automotive infotainment systems. The traditional product development cycle can begin nearly 10 years before you ever see a car. By the time it enters production, the infotainment system is already out of date, and still has to sell for at least four years before it gets updated. The rate at which smartphones improve is obviously a lot faster, with at least a new smartphone and OS release each year.

Apple and Google realize this. Each company has its own respective smartphone-to-car interface. Hyundai plans on supporting both Apple CarPlay and Google Android Auto, which essentially turns the head unit into a dumb terminal that connects to the phone and runs all functions from that device. Hyundai plans to roll out CarPlay support later this year on the new Sonata, but we were able to catch an early demo at the event.

Taking advantage of CarPlay requires an iPhone 5 or newer. The phone must be plugged in via USB to utilize the feature. Once plugged in, a familiar iOS interface is displayed on the infotainment screen. Only applications optimized for CarPlay show up on the vehicle display. Since the new Sonata infotainment system is primarily touchscreen-driven, an on-screen home button resembling Apple's physical button shows up on the bottom-left of the display.

Hyundai’s demo had music, maps, messages and phone functions working very smoothly. The user interface is smooth and seamless. Siri integration works well, too. If you’re a seasoned iOS and Siri user, it shouldn’t take long to adapt to CarPlay.

Hyundai expects CarPlay support to roll out on 2015 model year Sonatas, which could be anywhere from a month or year from now. However, Hyundai is working on a retrofit program so that customers who already picked up their 2015 Sonata can gain CarPlay support when it officially rolls out.

As for Google Android Auto support, the company can only say that it'll make an announcement when it's ready. Android Auto is still under development and not publicly available anyway. However, Google’s Android Auto webpage shows the feature running on a Kia Soul, which shares the same AVN 4.0 hardware and software platform as the new Sonata. Early demos on the Soul should provide a glimpse of what to expect from Android Auto connectivity in the new Sonata.