When Apple announced CarPlay earlier this year the assumption was that you'd have to buy a new car to try out the iOS-powered infotainment system. That may not be the case though, at least according to a new report from Japanese paper Nikkei which claims stand-alone CarPlay consoles will be available for between $500 and $700 later this year.
The consoles are apparently being manufactured by Alpine Electronics and offer the same features as CarPlay including Siri support, the ability to listen to music, view maps, and access to messages and email. The only visible difference is that you'll need a wire to connect the Alpine-made system to your iPhone, while CarPlay is expected to offer wireless support with the release of iOS 8. The Alpine consoles should be as easy to install as a new car stereo.
If today's rumor turns out to be true you could upgrade your current car to CarPlay for as little as $500 instead of paying thousands for a new model from Ferrari or Mercedes-Benz. Apple is likely targeting upper class consumers with CarPlay in an attempt to go after the sort of customer who'd otherwise be buying a new sports car or Tesla model every few years. Cupertino might be able to make a little extra profit by offering a $500 alternative, but Alpine will need to keep the experience up to snuff.
Of course, it's still too soon to tell if this rumor has any truth to it. It's exciting news for anyone interested in CarPlay but can't afford buy a brand new car just to try Apple's new system.