Here's our latest look at Apple's more immersive next-gen CarPlay

Jet Sanchez
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Apple's new CarPlay system could be a game-changer for modern cars.

Apple's new CarPlay system could be a game-changer for modern cars.

Apple has unveiled a detailed look at its next-generation CarPlay system during its annual developer conference, WWDC 2024, showcasing a slew of new features and enhancements set to redefine in-car connectivity.

The announcement was accompanied by a series of images and videos, offering a sneak peek into the upcoming changes.

New apps and customisation

Next-gen Apple CarPlay 2024

One of the standout features of next-gen CarPlay is its high level of customisation.

Notably, automakers will be free (for the most part) to tailor CarPlay's design to match their vehicle’s distinct aesthetics. The new CarPlay can adapt to a variety of screen configurations, from a single centre touchscreen to multiple large displays. Notably, car owners will also have access to some degree of app and widget customisation akin to what you might find on an iPhone or iPad.

Apple has revealed several design options and layouts for digital gauges and other instrumentation, highlighting the system's flexibility.

Next-gen Apple CarPlay 2024

Among the new additions are Vehicle, Media, and Climate apps.

These apps will integrate deeply with the car's systems, providing users with seamless control over vehicle settings and climate adjustments.

Next-gen Apple CarPlay 2024

The Vehicle app will house various vehicle settings, while the Climate app will manage heating and cooling functions. More than that, Apple is enabling support for advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) with a new interface for features like adaptive cruise control, lane keep assist and autonomous emergency braking.

Enhanced vehicle integration

Next-gen Apple CarPlay EV charging status

Next-gen CarPlay goes beyond aesthetics, introducing significant functional improvements.

Apple has designed the system to support custom alerts related to electric vehicle (EV) charging status, available software updates and more.

This feature is aimed at keeping drivers informed and in control, hopefully resulting in improvements in overall driving experience.

Additionally, the system will feature rear-camera integration, providing a more cohesive and convenient interface for reversing and parking.

Next-gen Apple CarPlay rear camera

This level of integration highlights Apple’s effort to make CarPlay an indispensable part of modern vehicles.

Incidentally, Apple headlined the event with its highly anticipated entry into the artificial intelligence (AI) space. The aptly named Apple Intelligence brings a suite of AI-enabled functions that might play a huge role in advancing CarPlay down the line.

This partially ChatGPT-powered system seems like a natural fit for Apple's aging Siri voice assistant. It will likely help improve features like notification summaries, quick message responses and smart vehicle control. Apple will need all these to stay ahead of Android Auto and its Google-based ecosystem.

Next-gen Apple CarPlay launch

Next-gen Apple CarPlay 2024

While Apple has not specified an exact launch date, it reiterated that the first vehicles equipped with the new CarPlay system will hit the market in 2024.

This timeline aligns with previous announcements from carmakers such as Porsche and Aston Martin, which became the first two brands to showcase their next-gen CarPlay designs late last year.

Meanwhile, the industry remains divided on the popular system's next iteration. Some innovative companies, like Polestar, appear keen to give buyers a choice between CarPlay and in-house infotainment software—as long as it doesn't encroach on the vehicle at an operating system (OS) level.

Next-gen Apple CarPlay 2024

But Mercedes-Benz is going in the opposite direction precisely with those concerns, with CEO Ola Kallenius backing out of the partnership and shutting down a potential implementation several months back. This may not necessarily mean that Mercedes owners will lose access to current versions of CarPlay, however.

The Bavarian company's position is somewhat understandable, given it has been spending an arguably odd amount of time and resources on its shiny, expansive MBUX infotainment system, even chomping at the bit to introduce ChatGPT integration amidst the recent AI boom.

Next-gen Apple CarPlay 2024

A number of other makers, including Honda, Ford, Jaguar Land Rover, Nissan, Renault and Volvo previously committed to adopting the new CarPlay, although it is currently unclear which of these brands are still on board.

That said, despite the lack of a precise release date and locked-in car brands, the anticipation for CarPlay's next evolution is palpable.

There's a lot more riding on the next version of CarPlay than many realise, as many consider it the last remnant of Apple's scrapped electric car project

Apple’s website continues to tease the arrival of new vehicles with next-gen CarPlay, but the absence of a concrete timeframe leaves room for speculation.

For a deep dive on the bold new direction Apple is taking its CarPlay system, check out the video below (fair warning: it was made primarily for auto designers).


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