Car Companies are figuring out whether to let Apple CarPlay

At its annual WWDC event, the tech giant revealed that the next generation of CarPlay will soon break free from the bonds that bound it to the central infotainment screen and applied to additional screens within the vehicle.

Apple can’t seem to build its car, so it’ll just have to take over everyone else’s. The next era of CarPlay is Apple’s most extended version yet.

CarPlay will also, for the first time, employ vehicle data to show crucial driving information like speed, fuel level, and engine temperature measurements and allow users to control settings, including radio or climate.

CarPlay is an Apple standard that allows a car radio or head division to be a display and a regulator for an iOS device. It is obtainable on all iPhone models starting with iPhone 5 running iOS 7.1 or later.

According to Apple’s website, all prominent vehicle manufacturers are employing CarPlay. Vehicles without CarPlay can hold vehicle audio products from automotive aftermarket suppliers fitted.

Will your car be ready for this complete understanding of CarPlay? Because the car companies certainly aren’t.

Twelve major automakers were asked about the updated CarPlay, and most replied with some version of “sounds cool, we’re performing on it.” To be sure, Apple itself wasn’t willing to reveal which car companies were on board, pledging to announce subsequently this year which vehicles would sustain this more maximalist interpretation of CarPlay. And a spokesperson for the company didn’t respond to inquiries about which automakers Apple was targeting.

Was this another issue of Apple sending automakers scrambling to design systems that can accommodate its vision for in-car domination? Here’s what the automakers told us:

  • BMW: “Currently, we have placed a clear focus on further enhancing our iDrive user interface system and, as part of this development, will continue the seamless integration of Apple’s ecosystem. Integral to these efforts will be an evaluation of how the latest innovations announced at WWDC can be integrated into our solutions.”
  • Volvo: “At this time, we don’t have anything to share. Beyond that, we plan to support this next generation of Apple CarPlay in future vehicles.”
  • Toyota: “We can’t comment or speculate on the future product.”
  • Polestar: “Apple CarPlay will come to Polestar 2 as part of an OTA update later this month. We’re also thrilled to reveal that the next generation of CarPlay will be coming to Polestar cars in the future.”
  • Ford: “Thanks for reaching out on the next-generation Apple CarPlay story. We do not have any additional information to share at this time.”
  • Stellaris: “This is an Apple operating system for automotive applications rather than a CarPlay upgrade. We have not created any announcements regarding that system.”

Spokespersons for Mercedes-Benz, Volkswagen, General Motors, Hyundai, Nissan, and Honda did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

One possible wrench in this plan is that several automakers have already made software deals with other tech companies. Ford is working with Google to design UX software for “millions” of future vehicles, while Stellantis does the same with Amazon. In addition, Volvo and Polestar have turned the UX to Google’s Android Automotive, which runs natively in certain cars. Apple has yet to make any similar deals with car manufacturers.

It isn’t the first time Apple has promised multiscreen CarPlay interoperability. When it unveiled iOS 13 in September 2019, the company promised a significant overhaul of CarPlay to align with Google’s Android Auto.

It included the ability to support various-sized screens and display information on two different screens in the vehicle simultaneously. “Automakers can develop CarPlay systems that show information in a second screen, such as in a cluster or HUD [heads up display],” the company said.

At the time, automakers said they were still figuring out how to allow Apple to overlay CarPlay’s display on these secondary screens. After this week’s announcements, they’re still working on it.