April 7, 2014| San Fransisco, CA, United States: Microsoft has revealed the concept of ‘Windows in the Car’, a proprietary Windows Phone-centric car integration systemwhich is simlar to Apple’s own CarPlay. Quietly demonstrated at Build 2014 this past week, , Windows in the Car pares back the standard Windows Phone interface to suit center console touchscreens and safer use while on the move thanks to features like Cortana.The system essentially works as a mirror for what’s already on your Windows Phone, allowing users to access apps like Maps, Xbox Radio, and Spotify on in-dash screens as well as physical car settings like defrost.
Microsoft in the Car is currently powered by Mirrorlink, an existing interconnectivity standard for cars and mobile devices which already has the support of a number of cars from makers including Volkswagen, Honda, and Toyota (as well as Nokia Symbian phones and Sony’s Xperia Z). Because the system is effectively an extension of Windows Phone, developers will be able to build car-specific apps, all of which carry heavy tones of Windows 9.
However, Microsoft dresses MirrorLink up in a familiar Windows and Windows Phone suit, with a UI that’s a combination of the two. As with CarPlay, exactly which apps and which features are on offer are dependent on what’s deemed safe for in-car use: think streaming media from services like Pandora, Spotify, and Amazon Music, along with maps and calls, rather than checking your Outlook inbox.
Unlike CarPlay, however, which effectively puts a video-output from the iPhone 5s onto the dashboard display, Microsoft’s proposed system would apparently be more tightly integrated into the car’s own functionality. In one screen, controls for heating and windscreen defrosting are shown in among shortcuts for streaming media and notifications about the current speed limit. Whether that’s actually possible remains to be seen, but it would certainly help Microsoft differentiate itself from rivals.
Right now this conecpt is all still in the realms of demo-tech, and Microsoft isn’t saying when Windows in the Car might make it out of the labs and into your dashboard.