In brief: Apple is reportedly looking to expand on its CarPlay integration in a big way. Sources familiar with the company’s plans told Bloomberg that Apple is developing technology that would allow users to access and control vehicle functions like the climate-control system, seat positioning and the instrument cluster directly from an iPhone.
The program is known internally as IronHeart, and is said to still be in the early stages of development. What’s more, it would require the cooperation of automakers in order to be launched as a consumer product.
Bloomberg notes that some Apple users have complained about the need to switch between CarPlay and their vehicle’s infotainment system to manage certain features. Adding the aforementioned functionality to CarPlay would reduce this friction.
The biggest hurdle at this stage would seemingly be with automakers. Would they be willing to forfeit control of these key vehicle features to Apple? If so, at what cost? Surely they wouldn’t just hand over that sort of power free of charge, even if it does make their vehicles more attractive to buyers.
As Bloomberg highlights, Apple has allowed carmakers to create third-party apps for CarPlay to control various functions since 2015, but most haven't taken part in the program.
Conversely, one has to question how useful these features would actually be. Do we really need yet another thing to keep track of on our phones? You’re already in the vehicle and in the driver’s seat with all of these controls at arm’s length; why bother putting them on a phone? If anything, it sounds like yet another thing to distract drivers from focusing on the road.
Image credit: Roberto Baldwin, Car and Driver