Apple Inc., the carPlay interface used by millions of motorists to control music, receive directions and make phone calls.
The company operates on technology that accesses functions such as climate control system, speedometer, radio and seats, according to those with knowledge of the effort. This initiative, locally known as “Ironheart”, is still in its infancy and will require the cooperation of automakers.
This work underscores the notion that cars are a big money maker for a technology company – even without selling a vehicle. Despite the setbacks in plans for Apple car, the company continues to infiltrate with CarPlay, including the dismissal of key executives this year. It allows customers to connect their iPhones to the vehicle to handle infotainment features. Seven years after its introduction, the CarPlay is now offered by most major automakers.
Ironheart takes Carplay a step further. The iPhone-based system can access a variety of controls, sensors and systems, people who asked not to be identified because the program is confidential.
- Temperature and humidity measurements inside and out
- Temperature zones, fans and defroster systems
- Surround-sound speakers, balancers, tweeters, loudspeakers and settings for adjusting fade and balance
- Seats and shields
- Speedometer, tachometer and fuel tool clusters
An Apple spokesman declined to comment on California-based Cupertino’s car plans. Shares of Apple rose 1.2% in early trading in New York on Thursday.
By gaining access to controls and tools, Apple can turn the CarPlay into an interface that can cover almost the entire car. Data can be used by Apple or a third party to create new types of processors or add features to existing functions.
Some Apple users have complained about the need to jump between CarPlay and a car’s built-in system to manage key controls. This effort will alleviate that friction.
The initiative will be similar to Apple’s approach to health and home technology. The company offers an app on the iPhone that can access and sync data from external health devices using its HealthKit protocol. Meanwhile, the Home app controls smart devices, including thermostats, security cameras and door locks, using Apple’s HomeKit system.
Ironheart represents the strongest impetus for Apple cars since the release of the CarPlay in 2014, but it has not been a success among automakers. They may be reluctant to hand over control of key features of Apple. While the CarPlay is now available on more than 600 car models, other Apple initiatives launched in recent years have been slow to catch up with automakers.
In 2015, Apple began allowing car makers to develop third-party applications for car play that could access car radio, GPS and climate control. In 2019, it began to support CarPlay on secondary car screens such as digital instrument clusters. A year later, Carkey and E-Vehicle Routing, a feature for unlocking a car with an iPhone or Apple Watch, announced that the charger would provide information on the ability to feel it when connected to the iPhone EV and on the map display.
But automakers have often been reluctant to include these improvements. Climate control and radio applications are only supported by certain cars. Also EV routing facility is not available on any vehicles currently shipped. The CarPlay display expansion is only supported by a few brands such as BMW and Volkswagen, and the Carge is only available on some BMWs.
For a while, Apple allowed its Siri voice assistant to tap certain car features, change audio sources and radio stations, move seats, and operate climate settings. But according to a message sent to developers in July, those features that relied on app support from car makers were removed in the latest version of the iPhone operating system, iOS 15. Apple may eventually delay or cancel Ironhart features if it does not show enough promise.
Some manufacturers, including Tesla Inc., have totally ignored Apple and Google’s car efforts and opted for their own next-generation infotainment ecosystem. Ford Motor Company wants to achieve more ambition. It recently hired Doug Field, Tesla’s former chief engineer and head of Apple’s own car project, to work on its car technology.
However, there is a risk that car makers will annoy iPhone fans by focusing on their own incompatible settings. That could prompt more of them to eventually embrace Apple’s technology. They can also choose to implement the features in different ways depending on the car. In some vehicles, Apple can gain control over climate controls, while others have only access to speakers.
For Apple, the project could provide insights into efforts to build a self-driving car. However, the company does not collect user or car data as part of this effort.
After leaving the field, the company appointed Apple Watch and Health Software head Kevin Lynch as its car project leader. A real car is probably years away — if it happens occasionally — but Apple is working on a plan with several former Tesla vice presidents and former BMW electric car executive Ulrich Grans.
Getting a strong foundation in cars can also stabilize the iPhone in the daily lives of customers. Each time the device handles more tasks – such as using a car, paying for groceries, showing an ID or opening the door – it gives consumers another reason to be an iPhone user.
Then they are more likely to upgrade to newer models and avoid competing phones. While Apple is pushing for new areas, the iPhone remains the company’s biggest money-maker, accounting for half of sales or nearly $ 138 billion last year.