Apple has just given motorists an exciting early peak at the next-generation of Apple CarPlay – and it takes the car infotainment experience to a new level.
Like Android Auto, CarPlay already makes it easier to access apps like Maps, Phone and Messages via your car’s touchscreen dashboard. But the next version will see CarPlay integrate with your car’s whole instrument cluster, including the speedometer, temperate controls and more.
This means Apple would effectively create the entire UI for your car, with CarPlay apparently adapting to any kind of in-car screen shape or layout, as well as providing content for multiple screens.
The most exciting thing for CarPlay fans is the level of customizability in the new software. You’ll be able to choose different gauge cluster designs, choose your own widgets and get glanceable info for things like Weather and the Music you’re playing.
Naturally, you’ll also be able to choose to have Apple Maps show you where to go in the behind-the-wheel screen, although this looked a tad distracting in Apple’s early demos of next-gen CarPlay.
The downside? The new Apple CarPlay isn’t ready just yet, with Apple saying that more information will be shared soon ahead of a launch in 2023 — and that “vehicles will start to be announced late next year”.
Analysis: Will car makers be on board?
Apple says that automakers are “excited” about the new version of CarPlay, but that’s unlikely to be a universal reaction given the extent to which it takes over a car’s entire UI.
While the next-gen CarPlay looks very polished and pretty, particularly with its customizable colors, it effectively shunts the car manufacturers to one side when it comes to dashboard design.
It also isn’t yet clear whether it will work with today’s CarPlay-compatible vehicles. Still, we’re hopeful that there will be some element of backwards compatibility and that more developers will join the best Apple CarPlay apps.
The number of CarPlay apps currently numbers more in the dozens than hundreds, but hopefully this new version of the software – which first landed over six years ago – might prompt more apps to join the likes of Spotify and WhatsApp in making CarPlay-specific versions.