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Vehicle infotainment systems are the next frontier for Apple Music, as more carmakers begin lining up to add Apple’s streaming music service directly to their vehicles.
It’s a move that began with the Porsche Taycan nearly three years ago. While it’s still being confined to higher-end vehicle brands, native Apple Music support is now coming to more mainstream vehicles, where more drivers will be able to appreciate it.
Last year, Mercedes added Apple Music to its MBUX infotainment system in new C-class, S-class, and EQS models, including over-the-air updates for existing vehicles that already used the MBUX system.
Now Audi is joining the party with an announcement that it’s bringing Apple Music to “nearly all” 2022 model Audi vehicles in Europe, North America, and Japan, marking the broadest rollout of in-car Apple Music to date.
Vehicles already on the road will gain Apple Music support via an over-the-air update, although the carmaker doesn’t spell out the specific requirements. While the 2022 year models that have already been sold will be eligible for the update, it’s unclear if older years will also get the update.
Audi has offered CarPlay in its vehicles since 2017 and began incorporating wireless CarPlay in 2019, starting with the A6, A7, A8, Q8, and e-tron SUV. In contrast, Android Auto didn’t arrive until 2022, so it’s fair to say Audi and Apple have enjoyed a cozier relationship with it comes to in-car technology.
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Integrating Apple Music into the Audio infotainment system marks the next step in the collaboration between Audi and Apple. For our customers, it means that we are offering them direct access to their own personalized listening experience. This is our understanding of a premium digital in-car experience. At Audi we are systematically driving the digitalization of the vehicle and we are convinced that the interior is increasingly developing into a third living space.Christiane Zorn, Audi’s Head of Product Marketing
Audi isn’t pulling any punches in promoting the new Apple Music experience in its vehicles, describing it as turning your Audi into “a concert hall on wheels.”
“Thanks to the integration of Apple Music, the vehicle not only becomes a hub for streaming entertainment, but also a concert hall on wheels thanks to its sophisticated audio architecture ‒ and the passengers feel like they’re sitting right in the middle of it all. This is because Audi creates a tailor-made acoustic experience for each model, and digital signal processing delivers a well-balanced sound.”
What’s the point of built-in Apple Music when I already have CarPlay?
For fans of CarPlay, it may not seem like it makes much sense to have Apple Music built directly into the vehicle’s infotainment system, especially since every single 2022 Audi model includes at least wired CarPlay. However, Apple understandably wants to ensure that its streaming service is front-and-center, especially on luxury car brands.
Marketing aside, it’s still a valuable feature for many folks who aren’t interested in the whole CarPlay experience. Some drivers only want to listen to music and don’t care about maps, navigation, or messages. Plus, long-time Audi owners may prefer the carmaker’s own MMI infotainment system to Apple’s CarPlay interface. Higher-end luxury car brands tend to do a much better job of making these in-car systems pleasant to use.
As with the other in-car Apple Music systems, this provides nearly all the features you’d get from Apple Music on your iPhone, including the ability to sign in to your account and access your personal playlists, For You recommendations, and radio stations. Of course, your Audi will also need to have its own data plan, but that may be a small price to pay for being able to stream music in your car independently of your iPhone.