Apple’s 2022 Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC) kick-started last night, and in their keynote presentation, the tech giant showed-off its next-generation Apple CarPlay system that not only runs on your infotainment display, but could power every screen in your cabin as well – yes, that includes your instrument cluster.
While the current Apple CarPlay mainly only allows you to run your iPhone apps in your car, the upcoming next-generation system is designed for “deep integration” with all the other vehicle control systems, letting you tune the radio or change your climate control settings, all without leaving the CarPlay interface.
In addition to that, the CarPlay system will also now be extended onto the digital instrument cluster screen on supported cars, where your driving information such as speed, RPMs, fuel level, and even temperatures are communicated to the iPhone in an “on-device, privacy-friendly way”.
Apple says that the next-generation CarPlay system will work with all sorts of display sizes and shapes, and based on the short virtual preview, it seems like the system will also allow for a large range of customisability, including multiple instrument cluster designs, as well as widgets that can be displayed on various screens to convey information such as weather to users at a glance.
It’s unclear at this point in time if the system is running natively on the vehicle, such as Google’s Android Automotive OS, or if it will rely exclusively on your iPhone to provide the processing power. We can’t imagine the instrument cluster switching away to the car’s own software every time your phone is disconnected, though, as that would be a huge UX nightmare.
Apple says that the first vehicles with the next-gen CarPlay system will be “announced” in late 2023, although it’s unclear if that date refers to the actual market availability, or just a global reveal. So far, a number of big car brands have already signed up to utilise the system, including Mercedes-Benz, Porsche, Nissan, Jaguar Land Rover, Volvo, Polestar, Honda, and Audi.
The availability of the system on Volvo cars is somewhat of a surprise, as they have already adopted rival Google’s aforementioned Android Automotive infotainment system. Volvo cars also currently do not support Apple CarPlay connectivity at all, although it’s said to be in the pipeline, and will be rolled out to the cars soon via an over-the-air software update.
Intrigued? Check out some of the features in action in Apple’s keynote presentation below. The CarPlay segment starts at 37:51.