At WWDC in 2022, Apple briefly unveiled what it called “the next generation of CarPlay.” The vision, expressed in fancy mock-ups rather than real cars, was impressive. CarPlay would take over all your car screens! What Apple had done for awful infotainment interfaces, they were going to do for awful everything interfaces.
After nearly a year and a half, we haven’t seen any new details at all about this next evolution of CarPlay. We were told back in June 2022 that vehicles would “start to be announced late next year,” which is where we are now. None have been announced, and time is running out.
On the apparent cusp of finally getting those car announcements, it’s fascinating to note that we’re left with more questions than answers about the new CarPlay. And even if we get a few car announcements before 2024 begins, we’re not likely to get many answers.
What we know about next-gen CarPlay
Despite the slick presentation in June of 2022, we still don’t really know much about this next-gen CarPlay.
We know it takes over the entire instrument cluster in supported cars, showing data that is currently unavailable to CarPlay: your speed, state of charge or amount of gas, mileage, engine temp, oil, and more. Apple will have lots of themes to let you customize your view, from modern layouts to those that resemble the instrument gauges of old. Customizable widgets will let you choose what info you want to see on the expansive super-wide displays of upcoming cars, many of which will stretch across the entire dashboard.
Your iPhone will still drive the display(s) but will receive important real-time vehicle data from your car (“in an on-device, privacy-friendly way” according to Apple) in order to manage your whole instrument cluster.
Obviously, your car will need to provide access to systems that CarPlay currently can’t access, like climate control or the radio, too.
We also got a quick slide of car brands that will support the new CarPlay, including:
- Land Rover
What we don’t know about next-gen CarPlay
The teaser Apple gave us leaves us with more questions than answers. Like…
- Which actual cars, not brands, will ship with support for this and what will they cost?
- What experience do you get if you don’t have an iPhone, or leave your iPhone at home?
- What happens if your iPhone is driving your entire instrument cluster and it crashes or the battery dies or something?
- What will it actually look like? With the first cars coming nearly two years after the mock-up in Apple’s teaser, we can probably expect plenty of changes.
- How does it work with cars that have rear-seat displays?
- Will it have access to car functions like opening the rear lift gate or hood/front trunk, or adjusting seat or steering wheel positions? What about wipers or defrost?
- If it takes over all your car displays, how does it integrate with external car cameras like back-up cams, integrated dash cams, or side/lane change cameras?
We probably won’t learn much very soon
Apple’s official CarPlay page still says “Vehicle announcements coming in late 2023,” and there hasn’t been any guidance to suggest otherwise.
But I would caution you not to get your hopes up for too much illumination. New car models are announced months (sometimes years) before they ship, and often with deceptive “starting at” prices that may not reflect the options packages that could be necessary for the new CarPlay experience.
If the very first cars to support the new CarPlay are indeed announced in the next month, it’s likely to be a relatively small number of luxury models. And outside of perhaps a new mock-up interior shot or two, the announcement is likely to focus on the car and not deliver the details of CarPlay.
What’s more, we shouldn’t necessarily expect the cars to support this new CarPlay as soon as they hit the road. There’s a perfectly good chance that we’ll need software updates in both the car and our iPhones before it’s enabled.
It’s not at all far-fetched to think Apple might demonstrate the real next-gen CarPlay—not just a mock-up—at WWDC in June, with the caveat that the first cars will get a software update to enable it later in the year when iOS 18 is released.
In other words, yes, we might get our first new information about the next-generation CarPlay this month, but it’s probably best to expect no more than crumbs.
Source : Macworld