It seems that Apple can’t build its own car, so it will have to copy everyone else’s.
At its annual WWDC event on Monday, the tech giant announced that the next-generation CarPlay will soon break free from the bands that restrict it to the main infotainment screen and spread to additional in-vehicle screens. For the first time, CarPlay will also use vehicle data to display crucial driving information such as speed, fuel level and engine temperature readings, as well as allow users to control settings such as radio or climate.
Is your car ready for this expanded version of CarPlay? Because the car companies are certainly not.
The edge reached out to 12 major automakers about the updated CarPlay, and most responded with a version of “sounds cool, we’re working on it.” To be sure, Apple itself wasn’t ready to reveal which car companies are on board, promising to announce later this year which vehicles would support this more maximalist version of CarPlay.
Was this another case of Apple scrambling automakers to develop systems that match its vision of in-car dominance? Here’s what the automakers told us:
BMW“Currently, we have put a clear focus on further improving our iDrive user interface system and, as part of this development, we will continue to seamlessly integrate Apple’s ecosystem. An integral part of these efforts will be an evaluation of how the latest innovations announced at WWDC can be integrated into our solutions.”
Volvo“At this point, we have nothing to share except that we plan to support this next-generation Apple CarPlay in future vehicles.”
Toyota: “We are unable to comment or speculate on future products at this time.”
Ford: “Thank you for reaching out to the next-generation Apple CarPlay story. We don’t have any additional information to share at this time.”
North Star: “Apple CarPlay is coming to Polestar 2 later this month as part of an OTA update. We are also excited to announce that the next generation of CarPlay will be coming to Polestar cars in the future.”
Stellantis: “This is more of an Apple operating system for car applications than a CarPlay upgrade. We have not made any announcements about that system.”
Spokespersons for Mercedes-Benz, Volkswagen, General Motors, Hyundai, Nissan and Honda did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
One possible key to this plan is that a number of automakers have already made software deals with other tech companies. Ford is partnering with Google to design UX software for “millions” of future vehicles, while Stellantis is doing the same with Amazon. Volvo and Polestar have simply handed over the UX to Google’s Android Automotive, which runs as standard in select cars. Apple has yet to make similar deals with automakers.
This isn’t the first time Apple has promised multiscreen CarPlay interoperability. When it unveiled iOS 13 in September 2019, the company promised a major overhaul of CarPlay to bring it more in line with Google’s Android Auto.
This included the ability to support screens of different sizes while simultaneously displaying information on two different screens in the vehicle. “Automakers can develop CarPlay systems that display information on a second screen, such as in a cluster or HUD [heads up display]the company said at the time. (Although that phrase is no longer on Apple’s iOS 13 support page.)
At the time, automakers said they were still figuring out how to make Apple overlay CarPlay’s display on these secondary displays. After this week’s announcements, it sounds like they’re still working on it.