Apple, the American tech giant, is looking to expand its CarPlay interface which is used by millions of motorists to control music, get directions, and make phone calls.
According to the company, it is working on technology that would access functions like the climate-control system, speedometer, radio, and seats. The initiative, known as “IronHeart” internally, is still in its early stages.
The technology underscores the idea that cars could be a major moneymaker for the tech giant even without selling a vehicle itself. While plans for an Apple car have faced setbacks, including the withdrawal of key executives this year, the company has continued to make inroads with CarPlay.
It allows customers to connect their iPhones to a vehicle and control so-called infotainment features. Seven years after its launch, CarPlay is now offered by most major automakers.
IronHeart would take CarPlay a step further. The iPhone-based system could access a range of controls, sensors, and settings. These include, “inside and outside temperature and humidity readings, temperature zones, fans and the defroster systems, settings for adjusting surround sound, speakers, equalizers, tweeters, subwoofers, and fade and balance, seats and armrests, the speedometer, tachometer and fuel instrument clusters.”
Apple began allowing carmakers to create third-party CarPlay apps in 2015, allowing them to access the car radio, GPS, and climate controls. It began supporting CarPlay on secondary car screens, like digital instrument clusters, in 2019.
A year later, Apple announced CarKey, a feature for unlocking a car with an iPhone or Apple Watch, and electric-vehicle routing, the ability for the iPhone to sense when it is connected to an EV and provide charger information in the maps view.