Next-gen CarPlay isn’t an Apple Car, but it might feel like one

At WWDC 2022, Apple showed off some surprising improvements to CarPlay that could hint at what the long-rumored Apple Car might feel like to use — if it ever becomes a real product.

Hardware integration — The next generation of CarPlay takes the in-car interface beyond simply displaying the information on your phone, to actual hardware integration with your car. Apple says you can control your radio, adjust your AC, and view car data like fuel level or speed, all without abandoning next-generation CarPlay.

Apple is preparing a version of CarPlay that can take advantage of all the extra screens cars have today.Apple

Apple is also changing what CarPlay looks like, displaying the interface on multiple different screens and different screen sizes depending on what your car has. That means for cars made by automakers that partner with Apple, you can see Apple-customized speedometers and gauges behind your wheel, and widgets for your favorite apps on your dashboard. Apple’s implementation seems very modular, and curiously very Apple Watch-esque in all the visual ways the new CarPlay can change.

The CarPlay of the future.Apple

Today’s CarPlay.Apple

Android Automotive — Right now, next-generation CarPlay is starting to look like its own independent operating system, which wouldn’t be much different from what Google is coming up with with Android Automotive.

Automotive is Google’s in-car operating system that works independently of your Android phone, basically Android for cars. Android Auto is more like CarPlay in that it requires your phone to be connected to your car to work. Apple appears to be transitioning CarPlay from something like Auto to something like Automotive, though questions remain about pretty much everything that comes with it.

What’s next – Apple says it plans to share more information about its next-generation CarPlay “in the future” and that the first cars to support it will be announced late next year, but for now we can pop our cans and enjoy what Apple sees. Conspiracy Brain.

One of the long-standing questions about the Apple Car project (which Apple was never announced or mentioned, incidentally) is whether the company has given up on automotive hardware production and only offered self-driving software to other automakers.

Today’s reveal of the future of CarPlay could indicate which way Apple is leaning. At least for now, Apple’s relationship with automakers (and cars in general) is all about software. The new CarPlay can make using your car as easy and useful as using your iPhone. One of these next-gen CarPlay partners may one day make the first Apple Car, but for now Apple seems to offer an elegant solution for an in-car operating system, and that’s more than enough.

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