When Apple rolls out its new CarPlay platform for syncing iPhones with infotainment and control systems in select cars later this year, the company's own iOS operating system won't be the only software crunching numbers under the hood.
In fact, CarPlay will work hand-in-hand with the QNX embedded OS owned by BlackBerry, the struggling Canadian handset maker which in recent years has seen the likes of Apple and makers of phones running Google's Android software all but erase its presence in many markets around the world.
BlackBerry's acquisition of QNX back in 2010, which the firm rolled into its current BlackBerry 10 operating system after some fits and starts, may not have helped the company regain its past glory during the early days of the smartphone era.
But the presence of QNX in many embedded systems like in-vehicle infotainment and control platforms, medical equipment, TV boxes, Internet routers and more, means that BlackBerry is still very much a player as the Internet of Things (IoT) movement connects more of the electronics surrounding us with our personal mobile devices.
Lost in the shuffle of Apple's big CarPlay announcement was the fact that QNX is an integral part of the tech giant's big push to give iPhone users hands-free, Siri-brokered access to their media content, apps, address books, and messaging services while driving.
But BlackBerry's Paul Leroux told N4BB on Monday that CarPlay actually runs on top of QNX.
"Connectivity to smartphones and other mobile devices is a key strength of QNX Software Systems' platform for car infotainment systems, and many automakers and tier one automotive suppliers use our platform to implement smartphone/head-unit integration in their vehicles. We have a long-standing partnership with Apple to ensure high-quality connectivity with their devices, and this partnership extends to support for Apple CarPlay," Leroux was quoted as saying.
While it seems that QNX will underpin the iOS-based CarPlay, N4BB pointed out that the Apple's offering is likely the "soon-to-be biggest rival" to BlackBerry's QNX Car 2.0 platform, an in-vehicle infotainment and control system that extends up to the touch and voice-controlled user interface manipulated by drivers and passengers.
BlackBerry's QNX Car 2.0 system provides mobile and automotive connectivity, voice recognition, video calling and 1080p video playback, navigation tools, and access to third-party apps.
Car makers deploying or testing QNX Car 2.0 read like a who's who of the automotive world, including Bentley, Mercedes-Benz, Porsche, Jeep, and more.
Apple, meanwhile, said it will initially roll out CarPlay in new vehicles made by Ferrari, Mercedes-Benz, and Volvo, with BMW, Ford, General Motors, Honda, Hyundai, Jaguar, Land Rover, Kia, Mitsubishi, Nissan, PSA Peugeot Citroen, Subaru, Suzuki, and Toyota to follow.