CarPlay has been completely re-thought in iOS 16. What does it mean for the future of the Apple Car project?
How it all started
CarPlay was first introduced in 2014 as part of iOS 7. If you had an iPhone 5 or later, your radio, or head unit could now be enabled to run apps from your iPhone. Since then, it really has changed little. Until last week, that is, when Apple unveiled their vision of what is to come with the future of CarPlay.
Currently, CarPlay works well enough, but it is fairly limited. I am fortunate to have a CarPlay enabled vehicle, and use it daily. I run my radio through it, podcasts, navigation (I don’t think I’ve ever used the car’s nav system!). The car is even connected to the dealership through it too, for servicing schedules etc.
The future looks set to be very different, as CarPlay will become more of a complete operating system.
The future is now!
With some cars, you can already have your car’s key in Apple Wallet on your iPhone. This means, apart from not taking your keys with you, that it will also know, intelligently, which driver is getting in the car, and make the necessary seat and mirror adjustments. That is only the start of Apple integration, though.
Apple expects, from 2024, and the latest updates in iOS 16 and beyond, that CarPlay will now be a multiscreen, complete infotainment system. There will be a far greater, deeper integration to the running of virtually every system of your car.
With gauge clusters being able to be highly personalised, CarPlay will now display speed, revs, essential fluid temperatures, economy, and a/c controls. But further to that, your calendars will be displayed, widgets, music, and even SmartHome settings too. Yup, you’ll be able to set the temperature of your heating at home from your cars displays (if we can afford to actually heat our homes that is!).
Car giants already onboard include Jaguar, Land Rover, Mercedes-Benz, Porsche, and Audi. Notable absentees are Lexus and BMW. The surprise there is BMW – they have almost been a show-car for the latest tech from Apple until now. They are currently experiencing chip supply issues of their own. Way before WWDC, BMW announced that they were shipping cars without either CarPlay or Android Auto, as they were changing chip suppliers. All that said, with 2024 still being a good way off, it is more than likely more car manufacturers will come on-side.
Makes sense for car manufacturers
Carmakers are great at what they do – they make cars! Their R&D dollar is best spent on making their cars as efficient and desirable as possible. The interiors, always smack somewhat of a painful afterthought. Not the leather, fabrics, seats and fittings, but the electronic clusters in front of you. With what we are witnessing with Apple, though, there could be a change ahead. Apple is pretty good at tech!
As it stands, CarPlay is driven via your iPhone. In my instance, it has to be physically connected to the car via a lightning cable. I believe there are cars that are wi-fi enabled that do not require a physical connection, but an iPhone is still the CarPlay system driver.
In this weekend’s Power-On newsletter from Mark Gurman, he makes reference that Apple are possibly playing a cunning long-game with this CarPlay update.
Apple Car is spoken about as being Tim Cook’s lasting legacy – his iPod moment as it were. That may well be, but also, in reality, it could still be a decade or so away. Gurman sites a history of Apple making subtle announcements, that seem fairly innocuous at the time, but with hindsight, have been monumentous. iTunes was announced, then on the back of that, the iPod was released. Then, we saw Health Kit. In itself, not all that exciting – only for Apple Watch to come along and make sense of it.
The same could be true of CarPlay. This could be the tip of the iceberg, and buy crucial time for the Apple Car project as well. In becoming more involved with the auto industry, they will learn more about how it works. No matter how many leading industry figures they recruit to their car programme, nothing can beat, real-life, hands-on, nuts-and-bolts, experience. At the same time, of course, Apple would also be forging relationships within the auto industry. This could potentially help them find a partner to licence the build of their car.
Apple – the carmaker’s saviour?
Apple could, conceivably, licence out their infotainment system to auto manufacturers, there-by saving them expensive development in an area that is not their niche. At point of purchase, we would then opt to tick the Apple CarPlay box, (or Android Automotive option), which the car dealerships will charge us for, thus, they re-coup their licensing costs from Apple.
Making the announcement this summer, Apple have laid down the gauntlet to car manufacturers, almost nudging, or pressurising them to come on board.
From Apple’s perspective, of course, it makes a clear, and very loud statement. To those thinking about the future of Apple Car – if you like the multiscreen CarPlay you have now…you’ve not seen anything yet! Just wait for Apple Car!
Does it make sense to you?
This blog may be a flight of fancy, time will tell I guess, but equally, it could be laced with some truth. Apple may well be ultra-serious about their car project, and if they are, then you must admit, this latest version of CarPlay makes even more sense than first meets the eye. Are we witnessing the start of a seismic change in car electronics, and infotainment systems?
What do you think? Is this our first look in to Apple Car?
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