Apple has revealed an upgraded version of CarPlay that will be capable of operating across multiple in-vehicle displays and the instrument cluster. Announced at Apple’s 2022 Worldwide Developers Conference, this version will also adapt to different in-vehicle infotainment configurations – making it compatible with a wide variety of vehicles. With the system’s new enhancements, Apple is aiming to provide a more unified, consistent, user experience that enables deeper integrations and further convenience.
In expanding the system’s functionality, CarPlay’s reach now goes beyond the center screen to the digital instrument cluster and other displays featured in the vehicle. When connected to CarPlay, the user’s iPhone communicates with their vehicle’s real-time systems in a secure, on-device, approach. It is this approach that allows the system to independently display key metrics and information such as the speed, RPM, fuel/charge level, and temperature. Within CarPlay’s main display, featured on the center screen itself, the user will be able to control some key vehicle features. Tapping on the temperature here opens a small menu that offers in-system controls for the HVAC, steering wheel heating, and seat recliner – enabling these functions to be adjusted without exiting the system altogether.
A core offering of the upgraded CarPlay system is its variety of personalization options. In an example interface showcased by Apple, a customizable Smart Stack widget sits between two gauges in the instrument cluster. It compiles several widgets under a scrollable menu-like UI to provide the driver with useful information, some of which is fed directly from their iPhone’s apps. The first shows information and statistics around the user’s current trip – including the duration, fuel economy, and distance travelled. Scrolling down shows more of the user’s selected widgets that offer further information from automotive-focused versions of Apple’s Weather and Maps applications.
Widgets like Smart Stack form a key part of the new CarPlay system, with the user able to select and assign different widgets to different screens in their vehicle’s infotainment system. On a widescreen dashboard, for example, these widgets sit above the center screen – displaying upcoming events from the Calendar app and information from the Music and Clock apps. From this screen, the user can also add a HomeKit widget to view or alter the status of their smart home devices, such as a connected garage door. Further in-vehicle personalization is enabled by a customizable instrument cluster, which allows users to choose from a variety of designs, gauge placements, dial treatments, layouts, and colors. Among the configurations shown by Apple were a modern, minimalist, cluster, a more traditional cluster design sporting several color options, and a cluster combining key vehicle information with the navigation functionality of the Maps app.
While Apple has not yet shared a release date for the upgraded CarPlay system, it will begin announcing a list of compatible vehicles from late 2023. Several OEMs have already committed to using it, including Jaguar, Land Rover, Mercedes-Benz, Porsche, Nissan, Ford, Lincoln, Audi, Acura, Volvo, Honda, Renault, Infiniti, and Polestar.