Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) Releases iOS 7.1, Which Adds CarPlay Support, New Siri Options and Bug Fixes (Re/code.com, March 10, 2014)

Our summary: On Monday, March 10, Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) released iOS 7.1, the first significant update to iOS 7. The update includes better fingerprint recognition for Touch ID, adds CarPlay functionality, and brings with it several new features for the OS’ photo and calendar applications. Siri also receives a number of improvements, like additional voice options and the ability to hold the device’s home button while talking to Siri (instead of waiting for the requisite “pause” before speaking to the prior version of Siri). iOS 7 also fixes a rebooting issue that some users encountered and enhances the performance of the iPhone 4.

Our take: As with past OS updates, Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) continues to evolve and improve upon its mobile platform. We view the addition of CarPlay support and the improvement to Touch ID as particularly important, as CarPlay adds entirely new functionality for iOS devices in  the car and Touch ID continues to offer potential for commerce/payments beyond the current iTunes-only purchasing capability.

Apple Inc. AAPL Carplay
Apple Inc. AAPL

Toyota (NYSE:TM) accidentally announced the incorporation of

Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL)’s CarPlay in 2015, though this statement has been retracted for now

Toyota leaks its own CarPlay release date, briefly says feature coming to 2015 models (9to5Mac, March 13, 2014)

Our summary: According to an article on 9to5Mac.com, Toyota unintentionally released a statement on its UK blog that announced its plans to incorporate Apple’s CarPlay in Toyota vehicles “come 2015.” Toyota promptly removed the accidental press release and issued a statement, saying that the leaked details are incorrect and that the company has made no official announcements regarding Apple’s CarPlay and Toyota vehicles. Even so, Apple has already previously confirmed that Toyota is working on CarPlay, along with 10 other vehicle manufacturers. That doesn’t include Ferrari, Mercedes-Benz, and Volvo, which have all revealed official plans to integrate CarPlay into upcoming vehicles, and Mercedes-Benz even has plans to release aftermarket solutions for implementing CarPlay into older models.

Our take: As we have noted previously, we view CarPlay as a complimentary part of Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL)’s existing ecosystem, as it should enhance the user experience and stickiness of current users. Apple just announced CarPlay last week, when its first three official partners unveiled future car models that will incorporate the technology. While Toyota may or may not release CarPlay-enabled vehicles in 2015, it remains one of nearly a dozen car manufacturers that are working on the technology but have not yet made any official  announcements, and it will be interesting to see what traction and additional functionality CarPlay is able to realize over time.