Concept: Here’s how Apple could supercharge CarPlay with deeper integrations and more


CarPlay has always been a temporary way for Apple to integrate its software into existing cars while they work on something much more innovative. Everyone knows Apple builds its own car. When we see the “Project Titan” rumor, no one knows. In the meantime, Apple appears to be expanding its efforts to incorporate more aspects of existing cars from other manufacturers. Bloomberg reported Apple’s plans to connect CarPlay to things like air conditioning, batteries, seats, etc. Here’s what CarPlay could look like with further car integration.

It starts with a brand new home screen. The current CarPlay home screen introduced in iOS 14 has a more widget-like layout that lets you see your current location, media controls, and more. A simple swipe takes you to large app icons. But what if this screen was more dynamic and much more powerful?

First of all, Apple should authorize a fourth “widget”. The first two may be smaller and offer controls for car functions. In the example below, you can see a complication and a toggle to change the internal temperature of the car. Next to it, the car’s battery percentage and remaining mileage appear as Apple Watch fitness rings.

Under both of the car’s controls, you can see your current location on the new Apple maps. It can display relevant information like nearby charging stations, your proximity to frequent location, etc. To the right of the map we have the weather conditions. It also displays the next few hours, which can be very useful if you are driving a long distance. The weather can also notify you of unsafe or safe driving conditions.

This new home screen is smart and dynamic, so it can smartly switch and move widgets depending on what you’re doing. For example, if you are playing a podcast or music, a media player widget will appear and move the current location by one to the right. It has larger controls for forward, rewind, and play / pause.

You may have noticed that at the bottom left there is an App Library icon instead of a home button. Since this is now the home screen, there is no reason to have a home button here. Tap the app library icon to display the large app grid.

There are now also buttons for editing the arrangement and for sorting applications. Sorting apps can give you a similar layout to the app library on iPadOS 15, organizing your apps by category. At the bottom left, the Application Library button has changed to the dashboard icon. Tapping on it will take you back to the new home screen.

Since this concept is mostly about how CarPlay can fit neatly into car functions, I wanted to go beyond buttons and widgets. What if Siri could do simple things like adjust your seat, change the temperature, turn on the lights, and more?

You can just tell Siri to “pull the driver’s seat back a bit” or say things like “get me closer to the steering wheel.” This could be useful for cars that have hard to reach or oddly placed controls for the seats. Drivers would not need to handle them.

Another car control that CarPlay could integrate better with is volume. This is needed for everything from calls and podcasts to audiobooks and music. When it is important, CarPlay would contextually display a large volume slider. In the example we have here, you can see a redesigned call screen with bigger buttons, a new more prominent microphone indicator, and the contact’s Memoji.

But below all the expected controls you can see the large volume slider. You can press either side to change the volume or swipe on it just like you would on your iPhone. You may also notice that the button on the bottom left has changed to a dashboard icon, allowing you to go home.

Since CarPlay can present information about your car charging, it can also notify you of low battery. It might show a large full screen notification with the existing battery and how many miles you have left.

CarPlay can offer the driver two large buttons. One to find a charger in Maps and start immediate route navigation or to call emergency services for help if you are in a bind.

In addition to more in-depth car controls, CarPlay could benefit from more in-depth HomeKit controls. A new Home app in CarPlay could give drivers easy access to opening and closing their smart garage doors. On the far right, Apple could show your three most used scenes.

A driver could be on the way and activate a scene from his car. When they get home, all their lights are on and their place is ready for them.

CarPlay could also use some visual adjustments. I always thought wallpapers were useless for CarPlay and frankly a bit of a nuisance. I would remove them entirely and offer the user only a few themes – a light mode, a dark mode, and a new beige mode. Beige mode would work well in the interior of cars with a light brown interior.

I also changed all the text to SF Rounded to make the text smoother and more comfortable on rounded screens.

Light mode versus beige mode

What do you think of our ideas for improving CarPlay? Do you think Apple will follow along and add new car integrations? Let us know in the comments below!

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