Apple CarPlay’s New Update Takes Over Gauge Cluster, HVAC Controls [Updated]

When it comes to in-car tech, automakers are hilariously bad at making something with even the smallest iota of intuitiveness. Granted, some are trying, but compared to software-centric solutions like Apple CarPlay, OEM solutions just can’t compete. Fortunately, they soon won’t have to.

Apple announced Monday that with its new iOS 16 coming later this year, its popular CarPlay compatibility software would integrate further than just the standard infotainment systems and support features across multiple in-car screens, all the way down to digital gauge clusters.

Apple was tight-lipped about many details but did say the new software would control vehicle features including climate controls and even includes the capability to display real-time vehicle data like speed, fuel level, temperatures, and more.

Until now, CarPlay was mostly relegated to maps and music, and limited to an infotainment display only. Some automakers—including BMW, Ford, Subaru, and plenty of others with ample screen real estate—struggled to adapt CarPlay to some vehicles’ touchscreens, leaving a sizable “dead space” around the display.

Interestingly, the rendered photo shows more streamlined integration with Apple’s “Home” features for home automation. No third-party apps were included in the render—likely for obvious reasons—but a new “Radio” app to control terrestrial radio is shown, as is a map view for Apple Maps embedded within the instrument cluster’s gauges, which has typically only been real estate devoted to OEM’s native navigation maps.

For that, Apple announced that its Maps app could include up to 15 stops on a single route, and the phone-as-a-key feature that is slowly being adopted by automakers such as Hyundai will offer key-sharing via text or email. Apple also said that its Wallet app would be improved but didn’t discuss if any new states will enable the driver’s license announced last year. (Perhaps Australia’s homebrewed virtual license debacle has played a part in the stall?)

Apple didn’t say what cars would be compatible with the CarPlay improvement and only shared a rendering of what the system could look like on multiple screens. The first car that supports this extended version of Apple CarPlay will be announced later this year—just don’t hold your breath for it being something Apple cooks up itself. And in case you have any doubt that automakers won’t buy in, Apple says that Acura, Audi, Ford, Honda, Infiniti, Jaguar, Land Rover, Lincoln, Mercedes-Benz, Nissan, Porsche, Volvo, and others have committed to the project to some extent.

Aaron Cole contributed to this report.