Apple previewed a new generation of CarPlay software that will power everything in front of the driver from the dashboard.
The current version of Apple CarPlay, available in 98% of new U.S. vehicles is more limited in its capabilities. With this upgrade, announced at the Worldwide Developers Conference event, CarPlay moves from an infotainment system to a software solution that will allow drivers to control parts of their car and show more information such as speed and fuel level.
The iPhone maker also reported being in talks with several automakers to bring the new generation of the software to their vehicles in late 2023.
Apple’s list of automakers poised to endorse the program included Ford Motor Co., Renault, Mercedes-Benz, Volvo, Honda Motor Co. and Jaguar Land Rover. Apple says automakers are "excited" about the concept of dashboard displays that offer a more consistent Apple look and feel.
The representatives for these brands described their companies as interested but reported no decisions have been made as to which models will have the upgraded version.
The new version of CarPlay will support multiple screens on cars irrespective of size and layout and can show information including weather and navigation. Widgets powered by the iPhone will be available across all screens including the instrument cluster, with multiple styles of dials, layouts, themes and colors.
Using the new version, drivers can change temperature settings, use apps such as the Audiobooks, News, Podcasts and tune the car's radio without leaving the CarPlay interface. The iPhone also will communicate with the vehicle's systems in real time in a "privacy-friendly way" to show driving information.
With the update, iPhones can communicate with a vehicle's real-time driving systems for the first time.
Automakers are likely to embrace the new system as current entertainment systems are a persistent cause of consumer complaints to quality scorekeepers at J.D. Power and Associates and other market research firms.
The competition now is over who will develop the software to power sprawling dashboard displays, who will control data flowing from the vehicle and the customers on board, and who gets to generate revenue as vehicles roll down the road.
There are signs that automakers and technology industry companies are reaching an agreement in these areas. Google has agreements with General Motors, Volvo Cars and the Renault-Nissan Alliance to provide software for next-generation systems. Amazon.com has partnered with automakers to integrate its Alexa voice assistant in vehicles.
At Apple, Emily Schubert, an engineering manager for car experience, said during Monday's conference that using the new software, "your iPhone communicates with your vehicle's real-time systems in an on-device, privacy friendly way, showing all of your driving information."
Furthermore, by moving its software to instrument clusters, Apple is closer to the key vehicle systems and controls it will need to access to provide autonomous driving software to other companies.
"Cars have changed a lot, with larger-sized screens and more of them throughout the car," Schubert said during the keynote. "There's an opportunity for iPhone to play an even more important role."
Apple announced the software far ahead of its release to the public potentially to give automakers plenty of time to customize the new CarPlay software.