Apple's 2023 CarPlay is an Apple Car preview - and is scaring Detroit

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in Future Apple Hardware
Apple shared big updates coming to CarPlay at WWDC 2022. If the "Apple Car" is real we just got a sneak peek of its dashboard.

Vehicle dashboard showing the next version of CarPlay
Vehicle dashboard showing the next version of CarPlay


Arriving in 2023, CarPlay will act like an operating system for vehicles. It will take over the car's instrument cluster to display gauges for fuel and oil, engine temperature, miles per gallon, and more.

There are 14 car vendors working with Apple to integrate CarPlay into their next vehicle offerings. What drivers are actually going to get depends less on Apple, and more on the vendors themselves.

Of course, a full Apple-designed Car has been rumored for about seven years.

The history of "Apple Car"

"Apple Car" rumors claim that the vehicle will be an electric model, competing with the likes of Tesla. Known internally as Project Titan, the vehicle could even be self-driving.

Rumors go back as far as 2014 when the first leak described Project Titan focused on vehicles. Apple formed a shell company called SixtyEight Research and began work in a facility known as SG5 in California.

Later rumors detailed leadership departures with the design and technology of Titan constantly changing. Bob Mansfield took over as project lead in 2016, announcing a shift in strategy that Apple shouldn't compete directly with Tesla.

In June 2019 Apple acquired Drive.ai, a startup in the field of autonomous vehicles. This was confirmed by Apple and the company received employees, cars, and other assets as part of the deal.

A photograph of a building thought to be connected to SixtyEight Research in 2015
A photograph of a building thought to be connected to SixtyEight Research in 2015


Numerous patents have revealed details of the "Apple Car", such as a multi-user display system, automatic configuration, and private displays that are different for each passenger.

A suite of safety patents were found in February 2021. These include an airbag-based occupant safety system, electronic stability control system, and dynamic element protection in which the car can lock the doors.

The latest rumors in the "Apple Car" timeline are from December 2021, in which a senior director of engineering and three engineers left for an aviation startup. In November of the same year, multiple reports claimed a release of 2025.

Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo has said a vehicle launch is unlikely to happen before 2025. In August 2018 he had said the launch date could be as early as 2023.* Previous dates include 2020 and 2021 with delays linked to departures of team leaders.

If everything goes according to plan, TF Securities expects a launch between 2025 and 2027. Apple has approached car manufacturers such as Hyundai and Nissan, and could work with Kia for manufacturing the "Apple Car".

CarPlay's traditional design for the instrument panel
CarPlay's traditional design for the instrument panel


The new version of CarPlay could be a hint of what customers can expect in the vehicle. It's likely that the car will be mostly digital with physical controls provided as a failsafe. CarPlay could truly become an actual vehicle operating system with autonomous driving capabilities "baked in."

The next generation of CarPlay

On its face, and in theory, the update announced during WWDC 2022 makes CarPlay more capable than ever. Integration with the vehicle's hardware allows for radio tuning or changing the internal temperature. Widgets are included to display calendars, weather, smart home controls, and the current trip in Apple Maps.

This level of integration is unprecedented for CarPlay. Right now the system lets drivers access iPhone-based apps from a vehicle's dashboard. Apps included are Podcasts, Music, Apple Maps, and others.

The "next-gen" version would transform CarPlay into a full infotainment system, a term used to describe the vehicle's command center with media, controls, monitors, and more.

The iPhone communicates with the vehicle's real-time systems and this happens locally as a privacy measure. CarPlay's interface will be able to adapt to each vehicle's unique screen sizes. Like iOS 16, the UI can be customized to fit the driver's desires.

Apple says that automakers from around the world are working to bring CarPlay into their vehicles. Land Rover, Audi, Lincoln, Porsche, Nissan, Ford, Jaguar, Acura, Volvo, Honda, Polestar, Infiniti, and others were shown during the keynote.

CarPlay with Apple Maps navigation
CarPlay with Apple Maps navigation


Vehicles will start to be announced late next year and Apple will share more information "further down the road."

The road ahead

Apple needs to work hard with automakers to deliver this level of system integration. Never before has CarPlay been able to interface with a car's real-time systems, and that will likely require fine-tuning.

CarPlay has to be perfect. The average weight of a vehicle is 4,156 pounds, according to a 2020 report from the Environmental Protection Agency. That's a lot more dangerous than rolling out an iOS update that introduces a storage bug.

Of course, automakers also have to be on board, and 14 is a good start. Apple's own way of doing things will deepen with next-gen CarPlay, and given how automakers have been reluctant to open the door for Apple, they may not want to cede even more control.

After the preview in the WWDC keynote, The Verge reached out to car manufacturers. What the publication got was a variety of non-committal responses.

The least tepid response was from BMW. It said that it has placed a "clear focus" on its own infotainment system called iDrive and will continue to evaluate CarPlay as it is now, not as promised for 2023.

Another customization option for CarPlay
Another customization option for CarPlay


Stellantis called what Apple announced an "extension rather than a direct CarPlay upgrade." Although Apple didn't refer to it as CarPlay 2.0, it is a significant upgrade that will transform the driving experience.

The automaker is working with Amazon to develop software for delivery vehicles that will launch in 2024. Stellantis may not want to integrate car software that it holds no control over.

Like BMW, Mercedes-Benz will be evaluating CarPlay, but also plans to hold discussions with Apple moving forward. Some of its vehicles support the current version of CarPlay, and this relationship is likely to continue.

Volvo was the most committal, saying it plans to support next-gen CarPlay in future vehicles. Volvo has also worked with Google's Android Automotive initiative, and is fine to cede control over the user experience to Google.

The connection between the iPhone and a vehicle is a point to consider. Apple didn't share specifics, only saying that it will happen on-device in a private manner. A Bluetooth connection isn't enough to process all of a vehicle's real-time data, so physical wires will need to remain.

The CarPlay user interface dubbed
The CarPlay user interface dubbed "modern" by Apple


If the "Apple Car" launches, special connectivity could be a selling point for CarPlay. Apple would love nothing better than for a driver to slide their iPhone into a special holder so that the experience just works.

Or, an iPhone wouldn't even be needed because CarPlay could be built right in as an operating system, and leverage a car's network connection.

Even with the first announcements, it's going to take years for next-gen CarPlay to arrive in vehicles and much longer for it to be widely adopted. Like WWDC should be, the tease was future-looking.

What actually pops out from car-makers still reticent to let Apple come anywhere near systems other than the radio and in-car entertainment is still anybody's guess.

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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 39
    jetpilotjetpilot Posts: 25member
    Has anyone yet considered the possibility that this new CarPlay IS the "apple car" project?
    dk49emcnairRonnyDaddytskwaraentropyslooplessrundhvidnetroxapplguysdw2001
  • Reply 2 of 39
    dk49dk49 Posts: 208member
    The long dashboard layout seems inspired by the Sony car. Also I wonder if the iPhone will be able to efficiently power all these big screens simultaneously, from a CPU/GPU standpoint? 
    edited June 9 RonnyDaddywatto_cobra
  • Reply 3 of 39
    emcnairemcnair Posts: 12member
    jetpilot said:
    Has anyone yet considered the possibility that this new CarPlay IS the "apple car" project?
    I was thinking the same thing. Apple could focus on the digital user experience. Let car manufacturers focus on the vehicle and the driving experience. 
    netroxwatto_cobra
  • Reply 4 of 39
    tskwaratskwara Posts: 8member
    jetpilot said:
    Has anyone yet considered the possibility that this new CarPlay IS the "apple car" project?
    I felt this way for a little while, and it's even more obvious when considering this upcoming extension.  An Apple Car in the traditional sense may not be needed if the company's strategic objectives and vision are realized.  This theory seems aligned with the frequent departures of high-profile staff - those now realizing the goals may not be to deliver an Apple Car, but rather be part of the critical infrastructure inside all cars.  This approach might not appeal to some industry superstar engineers that aren't excited by the prospect of being 'only' a component and not the entire platform.
    edited June 9 Beatsentropysmangakattenwatto_cobra
  • Reply 5 of 39
    MacProMacPro Posts: 19,483member
    If Google (as usual) copy everything the choice will be stark.  Drive a car that has no 'walled garden approach' and hope a 12 year old doesn't hack you as you drive past with app or an Apple powered system.
    BeatsMrBunsideimergingeniouswatto_cobra
  • Reply 6 of 39
    Why build a car when any car can be "your" car?
    Any rental car/autonomous vehicle would automagically customize to your preferences. The paradigm of 'owning' a car will change to use case rental for many if not most people.
    emcnairradarthekatwatto_cobra
  • Reply 7 of 39
    rotateleftbyterotateleftbyte Posts: 1,586member
    Electric Vehicles don't need a Rev Counter in the display. A Battery discharge/charge meter would be the replacement for it.

    I have CarPlay on my 2019 I-Pace and frankly... it sucks. I've seen it on a BMW 3 series and it is the same. Apple will have a lot of work to do to make it play with all these very different car data systems and so far I'm very reluctant to even consider setting it up when I change my car at the end of the year.
  • Reply 8 of 39
    Hank2.0Hank2.0 Posts: 150member
    Just what we need while driving a car...more bells, whistles, lights, voices, flashing colors, buzzing, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera  :s.  All in the name of "safety". No wonder we need cars that drive themselves :/
    JapheyM68000just cruisin
  • Reply 9 of 39
    danoxdanox Posts: 952member
    Why build a car when any car can be "your" car?
    Any rental car/autonomous vehicle would automagically customize to your preferences. The paradigm of 'owning' a car will change to use case rental for many if not most people.
    That is what Google and Epic think about the iPhone, skin it, Spotify has the thoughts too and EU is working towards it.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 10 of 39
    danoxdanox Posts: 952member
    jetpilot said:
    Has anyone yet considered the possibility that this new CarPlay IS the "apple car" project?
    Then Apple is on the wrong track whistling Dixie, the only way that all encompassing display will happen is Apple building their own boring SUV EV for the rich.

    I do however thank Apple for allowing me thru investing to retire early and Apple CarPlay is ok but it doesn’t work with a iPad, two steps forward one back….
  • Reply 11 of 39
    dk49dk49 Posts: 208member
    jetpilot said:
    Has anyone yet considered the possibility that this new CarPlay IS the "apple car" project?
    I am sure that's not the case. The patents Apple has filed clearly indicates that they are working on developing an actual car.
    9secondkox2watto_cobra
  • Reply 12 of 39
    BeatsBeats Posts: 3,015member
    jetpilot said:
    Has anyone yet considered the possibility that this new CarPlay IS the "apple car" project?

    The visuals are indeed beautiful and Apple-like but I highly doubt Apple spent almost a decade and billions of dollars and thousands of employees on this. At most maybe they canceled the Car and distributed the remains as CarPlay.

    emcnair said:
    jetpilot said:
    Has anyone yet considered the possibility that this new CarPlay IS the "apple car" project?
    I was thinking the same thing. Apple could focus on the digital user experience. Let car manufacturers focus on the vehicle and the driving experience. 
    This only sounds good in theory. Apple likes to control the hardware so the software works optimally and they own the hardware.  The problem with letting the car manufacturers deal with the hardware is that no one is stopping Google/Samsung/Amazon from ripping off Apple and car manufacturers running with it.
    dk49clemynxwatto_cobra
  • Reply 13 of 39
    IreneWIreneW Posts: 297member
    MacPro said:
    If Google (as usual) copy everything the choice will be stark.  Drive a car that has no 'walled garden approach' and hope a 12 year old doesn't hack you as you drive past with app or an Apple powered system.
    If copying is a concern, it is the other way around in this case. AAOS has been on the market for a few years already (as mentioned in the article, used e.g. by Volvo and Polestar).
    edited June 9
  • Reply 14 of 39
    hypoluxahypoluxa Posts: 678member
    jetpilot said:
    Has anyone yet considered the possibility that this new CarPlay IS the "apple car" project?

    I thought the same thing..it'd be great if this is actually. Apple could make a great UX/UI for a car. We all just have to wait...and wait, to see.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 15 of 39
    emcnairemcnair Posts: 12member
    Beats said:
    jetpilot said:
    Has anyone yet considered the possibility that this new CarPlay IS the "apple car" project?

    The visuals are indeed beautiful and Apple-like but I highly doubt Apple spent almost a decade and billions of dollars and thousands of employees on this. At most maybe they canceled the Car and distributed the remains as CarPlay.

    emcnair said:
    jetpilot said:
    Has anyone yet considered the possibility that this new CarPlay IS the "apple car" project?
    I was thinking the same thing. Apple could focus on the digital user experience. Let car manufacturers focus on the vehicle and the driving experience. 
    This only sounds good in theory. Apple likes to control the hardware so the software works optimally and they own the hardware.  The problem with letting the car manufacturers deal with the hardware is that no one is stopping Google/Samsung/Amazon from ripping off Apple and car manufacturers running with it.
    A valid point, which I won't argue against. However, I will add that maybe Apple has concluded that building a car might not generate enough revenue to justify the expense. Maybe they will just sell  the automotive manufacturer a “little black box” that contains the Apple-designed “brain” that runs the vehicle. Perhaps it's nothing more than an upgrade item for consumers. I know it's very unlikely, but something to contemplate. I wouldn’t mind picking my car, than selecting an Apple CarOS to interact with. 
    ihatescreennamesBeatswatto_cobra
  • Reply 16 of 39
    9secondkox29secondkox2 Posts: 1,223member
    Apples UI looks like a dream. 

    Releasing it this way is a Trojan horse getting the appetites of consumers early. 

    If Apple wanted to just do this, they’d have done it years ago. 

    This is a statement and getting their system recognized before a partner tried to steal it. 

    Can’t wait to see what they come up with. 
    But frightened to see what they price it at…
    edited June 9 Beatswatto_cobra
  • Reply 17 of 39
    Why build a car when any car can be "your" car?
    Any rental car/autonomous vehicle would automagically customize to your preferences. The paradigm of 'owning' a car will change to use case rental for many if not most people.
    Except for one thing: It’s a lot more expensive to rent a car than buy one, if you need one daily as most people do.

    Last time I rented a car for a long period it was about $500 a month, while you can lease the same bottom-end car for about $200 a month.  

    I liked the idea of an eternal rental since I wouldn’t have to do repairs, but that price difference changed my mind real quick.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 18 of 39
    DAalsethDAalseth Posts: 2,036member
    jetpilot said:
    Has anyone yet considered the possibility that this new CarPlay IS the "apple car" project?
    Absolutely. All the testing miles and cars were to develop systems and refine them. Then when they are ready, make back all the money by selling the software to car companies and getting $X per car. 
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 19 of 39
    No automaker is going to give apple that much control over their vehicle. Weve already seen that with the limited capabilities of CarPlay. In order to gain more control over internal car systems, automakers will need to give up a LOT of proprietary information, and most likely abandon any other potential interfaces like Google or Microsoft. I really don’t see them wanting to alienate any potential customers.

     This full display preview we’re seeing is most likely more display space that automakers are willing to work with, but highly doubtful that any systems that compromise their own safety and reputation are going to happen… unless apple were to merge with said automaker… yeah i don’t see that happening either.
    IreneWjust cruisinwatto_cobra
  • Reply 20 of 39
    StrangeDaysStrangeDays Posts: 12,063member
    jetpilot said:
    Has anyone yet considered the possibility that this new CarPlay IS the "apple car" project?
    Yes, it’s been discussed that Project Titan could be an OS-like project to supply to automakers. Seeing this makes it a little more possible.
    edited June 9 watto_cobra
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