Apple goes on autopilot, BBC 3 crashes out

Week in Tech
Apple is setting a course for in-car dominance

This week, the internet was ablaze with rumours that Apple was buying electric sports car firm Tesla. The rumours were bobbins, but that doesn't mean Apple doesn't have some, ahem, wheely good ideas.

Apple is making a dash for your dashboard, and it's doing it in the form of CarPlay - the technology formerly known by the duller but more descriptive name of iOS in the Car. As Kate Solomon explains, "Ferrari, Mercedes-Benz and Volvo are the first three to sign on.

The first CarPlay enabled cars will be shown off at Geneva this week and will ship sometime in 2014. You'll be able to use CarPlay to play iTunes music wirelessly from your iOS device through the cars' speaker systems, but Apple's also allowing use of third party music apps like Spotify and iHeartRadio too."

What's the appeal? James Rivington knows: "Because the lifespan of a car is so long compared to the lifecycle of digital technologies like phones and the software they run, the challenge is to create a smart in-car infotainment system that can stay up-to-date even as your car ages." The car industry generally agrees that "smart in-car tech needs to be driven by our external devices" because, let's face it, tech firms are quite good at tech.

CarPlay is too late, Jeremy Laird says. "Google already has Apple well beaten… Google Maps is miles ahead of Apple Maps. Factor in Google's broader track record in automotive tech, including driverless cars and the promise of Google Glass and a very strong case for favouring it over Apple in the contest for in-car supremacy emerges."

While there's little difference between iOS and Android in the entertainment stakes, "Mapping and nav really matters in cars, and there Google will have a clear advantage." Apple is way out of its comfort zone here, and "Google is far, far better placed to do well in cars."

New iPlayer en route

Could we end up watching iPlayer on the move? We could, if our cars are willing to do the driving for us. It won't be the iPlayer we're used to, though, because a brand new iPlayer is en route. The new version gets a download store for those of us who want to own programmes forever, and it will feature channels that you won't be able to get offline. In a move that's caused a bit of controversy, BBC 3 will be one of those channels: it's getting the boot from the BBC's broadcast line-up to start a new life as an online-only offering.

iPlayer is increasingly about viewing on mobile devices, and we've seen a whole bunch of new ones this week. Archos unveiled its music-focused 40b Titanium, leaks from the HTC camp suggest its new HTC One makes the Samsung Galaxy S5 look like a laggard, and the massive Samsung Galaxy Note Pro 12.2 could have been designed specifically for iPlayer sessions - especially if you team it up with a set of Philips Fidelio E2 speakers.

HD tablets are pretty impressive, but of course PCs are way beyond that - and the latest card for the beyond-1080p graphics crowd is the AMD Radeon R9 280. It's designed for "monitors running 1600p and title settings turned up high," Michelle Fitzsimmons says, and it's almost as powerful as the ridiculously fast R9 280X. Expect to pay around $279 (about £167, AU$312) if you can find one in stock.

AMD isn't just interested in high-end graphics kit, though. It wants to make all computing more awesome, and as part of that plan it's unveiled its new AM1 APU platform based around its Kabini architecture. The platform is aimed at the ultra-low cost market in Latin America, South-east Asia, Europe, the Middle East and Africa, and AMD hopes that when it comes to affordable computing manufacturers and hobbyists will base their designs on its itsy-bitsy teeny-weeny very cheap platform, Kabini.

  • Everything you need to know about Apple's Carplay

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