Apple surprised everyone at WWDC, presenting a glimpse of the future of CarPlay. What was just a projection of a variant of iOS on a single screen of the dashboard is set to become a complete operating system for the vehicle. All screens will be managed by CarPlay, including the one for the counters behind the steering wheel if there is one, and above all all vehicle settings will be supported by CarPlay.
A project of crazy ambition that recalls in mind what Google was able to achieve with Android Automotive, but with a difference in size however. CarPlay will not be installed in vehicles by their designers, it will remain managed and controlled by the user’s iPhone. This has several implications, perhaps the most important from the perspective of automakers being that Apple will retain control over the overall experience.
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While Android Automotive can be adjusted by each manufacturer to present a specific interface and even ergonomics, CarPlay should be the same everywhere. Or rather, CarPlay will offer the same base to all users and everyone can adjust it as they wish, in particular by choosing which widgets to display and where to display them. We can assume that manufacturers will have “their” own counters, designed with Apple like the Nike+ or Hermès dials of the Apple Watch, but users should be able to change the interface as they wish and have the same experience in all CarPlay compatible cars.
As screens become widespread in car dashboards and the interface becomes an essential element to differentiate itself from other brands, a manufacturer must cede control of all screens in the passenger compartment to Apple if it wants to take support this novelty. In addition to working with the California company to get the iPhone to communicate with the on-board computers, to make sure that the air conditioning and all the other controls are well managed by CarPlay and to make sure that the speed or the level of the battery are well displayed, he must agree to leave control over the presentation and ergonomics of the entire dashboard.