looking forward Apple, whose CarPlay interface is used by millions of motorists to control music, get directions and make phone calls, is expanding its reach in cars.
The company is working on technology that will access functions such as the climate control system, speedometer, radio and seats. The initiative, known internally as “IronHeart”, is still in its early stages and requires the cooperation of automakers.
The work underscores the idea that cars can be a huge profit for the tech giant, even without selling the car itself.
And while Apple’s car plans have faced setbacks, including the withdrawal of top executives this year, the company has continued to make progress with CarPlay.
CarPlay allows customers to connect iPhones to a car to engage with so-called infotainment features. Seven years after its launch, CarPlay is now offered by most major automakers.
IronHeart takes CarPlay a step further, as the iPhone-based system can access a range of controls, sensors and settings, including:
- Indoor and outdoor temperature and humidity readings.
- Temperature zones, fans and defrost systems.
- Settings for adjusting surround speakers.
- Seats and armrests.
- Speedometer, tachometer and fuel instrument clusters.
With access to controls and tools, the company can turn CarPlay into an interface that can span nearly the entire vehicle. The data can also be used by Apple or third parties to create new types of apps or add features to existing functionality.
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Apple looks to build on the success of CarPlay
Some company users have complained about the need to switch between CarPlay and the car’s built-in system to manage key controls. This initiative would alleviate this problem.
This effort is similar to Apple’s approach to health and home technology. The company offers an iPhone app that can access and collect data from external health devices using the HealthKit protocol.
Meanwhile, the Home app uses HomeKit to control smart devices, including thermostats, security cameras and door locks.
The IronHeart initiative represents the company’s strongest push in the automotive space since the launch of CarPlay in 2014. But it may not be as successful with automakers.
And car companies may be reluctant to hand control of key features to Apple. And while CarPlay is now available on more than 600 vehicle models, the company’s other initiatives launched in recent years have been slower to catch up with the automakers.
The project could provide the company with useful insights into its efforts to build a self-driving car. However, the company will not collect user or vehicle data as part of the initiative.
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