Apple wants more control over cars - report

Apple has a top-secret project in the works that could allow iPhone owners to adjust the climate control, audio settings and seat controls.

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Jack Quick
Jack Quick
Journalist
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Apple is looking into a project that would allow the company to have more control over a vehicle than ever before.

A report by Bloomberg indicates the project, known as ‘Ironheart’, is in its early stages and is still very secret.

After launching its CarPlay feature to iPhones in 2014, the company has continually brought new features over the years.

This new Ironheart project could potentially be CarPlay 2.0, taking what’s already available and adding access to a range of controls, sensors and settings throughout the vehicle.

A source told Bloomberg that it could include the following features:

  • Inside and outside temperature readings, as well as humidity readings
  • Interior climate control zones, defroster and air-conditioner settings
  • Audio settings for adjusting surround-sound speakers, equalisers, tweeters, subwoofers, as well as the fade and balance
  • Seat and armrest controls
  • Speedometer, tachometer and fuel gauges

These new features, if they become available, could alleviate issues with jumping between CarPlay and the car’s built-in system to manage key controls.

This project isn’t a standalone infotainment operating system like the Android-based infotainment system used in the Volvo XC40 Recharge, C40 Recharge and Polestar 2.

Instead, it’ll still be iPhone-based.

Currently Apple CarPlay is offered in more than 600 car models and is predominantly used to project particular iPhone apps, such as phone calls, navigation and music, on the car’s infotainment screen.

In 2015, Apple started allowing automakers to build third-party apps for CarPlay that could access the car radio, GPS and climate control.

This functionality is only supported in a few cars with many automakers reluctant to hand over access to these key features.

For some time as well, Apple also allowed its Siri voice assistant to tap into certain car features, allowing it to change audio sources and radio stations, move seats, and operate climate settings.

These features were removed in the company’s latest iPhone operating system, iOS 15, according to a message sent to developers in July 2021.

This could be detrimental to the Ironheart project because if it doesn’t get any support from automakers soon, the project could get delayed or shelved.

In 2019, Apple started supporting CarPlay on secondary car screens like digital instrument clusters.

This is currently only seen on some models sold by BMW and Volkswagen.

Apple also released its CarKey feature that allows for unlocking and locking of a car with an iPhone or Apple Watch.

So far this feature is offered on all BMW models built after July 1 2021 except the X1, X2, X3, X4 and 7 Series.

It hasn’t been seen beyond BMW vehicles yet.

A CarPlay feature that has yet to be picked up by any manufacturer is its electric-vehicle routing functionality.

This feature allows an iPhone to detect when it’s connected to an EV and provide charger information in its proprietary Apple Maps application.

While Apple could be getting closer with its Ironheart project, its first electric car is reportedly still a while off.

Apple recently lost the head of its car project, Doug Field, who was poached to work at Ford.

Many reports have circulated that Apple is in talks with multiple different automakers about manufacturing its still top-secret vehicle.

The company has apparently talked with Japanese, South Korean and Chinese suppliers with nothing eventuating yet.

MORE: What’s coming next to Apple CarPlay and Android Auto?

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Jack Quick
Jack Quick
Jack Quick is a Journalist at CarExpert.
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