Shown at a press conference today at IFA 2015, the biggest change to Car Mode is the fact that it can connect wirelessly to cars via MirrorLink. MirrorLink is a universal technology that allows smartphones to display apps and services on infotainment systems. Honda, Toyota, and Volkswagen are already offering cars with the technology.
One area in which Samsung is leading the way with Car Mode is that it offers a standalone mode for those situations in which a car isn’t compatible with MirrorLink. This will be the case for most people, since only newer cars offer such features.
Samsung’s Car Mode is similar to CarPlay and Android Auto in that you can use your voice to read/reply to messages, control audio, and specify what music you want to listen to. You can also look up destinations and get turn-by-turn directions via the in-dash display. We presume that all voice commands will be routed through Samsung’s S Voice personal assistant. Users can also control apps by tapping the in-dash display, if they prefer.
This kind of functionality is exactly what Apple and Google are offering with CarPlay and Android Auto, respectively. Interestingly enough, most Samsung phones will work with Android Auto as well, so consumers actually have two choices.
Samsung wasn’t clear on if developers needed to adjust their apps in order to work with Car Mode, but the company did say there won’t be a separate app store.
Samsung also announced a new partnership with Volkswagen, in which the new Gear S2 smartwatch will integrate with its Car-Net e-remote app on select cars. Users will be able to lock/unlock car doors, open/close windows, control climate settings, and even find out where their car is parked from the Gear S2 smartwatch.