The initial WWDC deluge is over and the one thing missing – aside from Dr. Dre playing out the keynote – is CarPlay. Any mention of Apple's push to make its way into your dashboard was notable in its absence, and the primary problem is that app developers just don't care.
The idea behind CarPlay is great. Your ride can finally keep pace with the device in your pocket. But the issues are two-fold: a lack of supported apps and a handful of cars that actually support it.
So far, dozens of automakers have signed on to offer CarPlay enabled systems, but only three companies are selling compatible vehicles: Chevy, Mercedes-Benz, and Ferrari. And so far it's only available on three cars: the Sonic, CLA, and FF.
The problem – as always with cars and tech – is they're on two massively different product cycles. Apple puts out new devices and OSes every year, while automakers develop new cars and associated infotainment systems every 3 to 6 years. There's no way to reach parity with the world of consumer electronics when you're constantly not just behind the curve, but can't even see it.
We're supposed to get CarPlay enabled cars from Honda, Hyundai, Toyota, and Volvo later this year, while BMW, Ford, JLR, Nissan, Subaru and others are promising functionality in 2015.
So it's no wonder that Apple is keeping quiet and developers aren't champing at the bit to get CarPlay apps to market. No amount of Ferraris lining the halls of the Moscone Center will change that.
The vast majority of compatible apps are from Cupertino, and they're the one's you'd expect: phone, music, maps, messaging, and podcasts. And after last week's acquisition, that now includes Beats Music. But that's it.
Only the big players in streaming audio – Spotify, Stitcher, and iHeartRadio – make CarPlay apps, and that's only because they've got the in-house development resources to support it.
But for the indie developer, there's absolutely no incentive to invest the time, effort, and energy into making something that's going to be used by – maybe – a few thousand people right now.
And make no mistake, that's where the next great auto app is going to come from. It won't be a major OEM or tech giant that revolutionizes the functionality of your dash – it will come from a guy working in his robe and PJs. And until he has the motivation to make that idea a reality and not just churn out another Flappy Bird clone, our dashboard will continue to be an ugly, barren wasteland of lost potential.