Apple wants to take over every last screen with CarPlay

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A next-gen version of Apple CarPlay is making waves in the automotive space at Apple’s WWDC 2022 event today. It’s far more than just a minor update to the regular, old screen projection on the infotainment display. No, today Apple proposed a system that would take over every screen in the car, instrument cluster included.

As shown, Apple software would power literally every last part of the car's user interface. By contrast, today's Apple CarPlay can take over your infotainment system’s display, but that’s where the experience ends. The gauge cluster (if it’s fully digital) and any other ancillary screens are all powered by OEM-designed software. In Apple’s example of the next-gen system, the instrument cluster essentially becomes an Apple CarPlay-powered instrument cluster, using Apple-designed gauges, widgets and more. The look you end up seeing on the cluster is highly customizable with various Apple-designed gauges, layouts and more. But, it would be a unified and consistent experience across every vehicle capable of running this version of Apple CarPlay. In theory, the gauge set of a Porsche could be made to look exactly like that of a Nissan, should both companies decide to support this level of integration.

How does this work? Apple says that “your iPhone communicates with your vehicle’s realtime systems in an on-device, privacy friendly way.” Yes, that is extremely vague, but there’s no additional information as of now. At the very least, it seems like the iPhone will continue to require the same wired or wireless connection to the car to make the system run. But again, that’s not made crystal clear here.

Skip to 40:28 in the video above to see the section on Apple CarPlay.

The integration goes deeper into the infotainment system, too. Instead of having to exit out of CarPlay to tune the radio or adjust the climate control (in cars without physical climate controls), you’d be able to do both within the Apple CarPlay software. This really would be a true Apple takeover of your everyday vital car functions. You’d be able to customize the display with widgets such as the calendar app, music app and more, allowing you to move them between the central infotainment display and gauge cluster as you wish.

So, when is it coming? And what cars will be able to run this software? Apple doesn’t have clear answers to either of these, but it did flash some brands up onto the screen and say that they’re “excited to bring this new vision of CarPlay to customers.” Those include Land Rover, Mercedes-Benz, Porsche, Nissan, Ford, Lincoln, Audi, Jaguar, Acura, Volvo, Honda, Infiniti, Polestar and Renault.

As of now, Apple says it’s going to start to announce specific vehicles that will support it “late next year.” Basically, don’t expect this to hit cars anytime soon, as the first vehicles announced will be toward the end of 2023.

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