By on October 7, 2021

Most of us have synced our phones to a vehicle to play music, unwittingly funneling personal information to the manufacturer in the process. But only an elite few have used their mobile device to digitally summon an automobile out of a garage or remotely tell it to pre-condition interior temperatures to the desired specification. However, that’s likely going to be the future and Apple would very much like to be leading the charge.

The tech giant is reportedly developing a way to better integrate smartphones with cars by accessing systems that are currently unavailable to CarPlay. Apple’s new program, internally known as IronHeart, seeks to collaborate with automakers so that its phones can network with vehicles in new and interesting ways. It’s effectively CarPlay 2.0 and sounds as though it would be giving the company access to just about every item drivers might interface with on a daily basis. 

According to Automotive News, those systems include interior and exterior temperature and humidity readings, interior climate zones, defroster/AC settings, audio settings, radio, seat controls, radar equipment, cameras, speedometer, tachometer, fuel gauge, and more.

From AN:

By gaining access to controls and instruments, Apple could turn CarPlay into an interface that could span nearly the entire car. The data also could be used by Apple or third parties to create new kinds of apps 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 initiative would alleviate that friction.

The effort would be similar to Apple’s approach to health and home technology. The company offers an app on the iPhone that can access and aggregate data from external health devices using its HealthKit protocol. The Home app, meanwhile, uses Apple’s HomeKit system to control smart appliances, including thermostats, security cameras and door locks.

IronHeart would represent Apple’s strongest push into cars since CarPlay was released in 2014, but it may not be a hit with automakers. They could be reluctant to hand over control of key features to Apple. While CarPlay is now in more than 600 car models, other Apple initiatives launched in recent years have been slower to catch on with automakers.

While I couldn’t say whether IronHeart is going to take off and get the kind of support it needs from the industry, connectivity features feel like may have already reached their zenith. Wirelessly transferring my playlist is handy and the same is true for sending my desired navigational tools over to the central screen. However, syncing with Apple CarPlay or Android Auto will also launch an unpleasant onslaught of chimes in this unnecessary attempt to notify me of every single message I’ve received while driving. It’s constantly encouraging me to interact with my phone when it probably should be switched to the “Do Not Disturb” setting by default and has encouraged me to use a stick with the AUX input for music whenever I’m not intentionally testing the multimedia system. I have similarly never once been excited to unlock a vehicle using my smartphone or (if I owned one) Apple Watch.

But the iPhone remains the company’s most profitable product by far, so it has a vested interest in keeping it in the game as often as possible. For every automaker that builds a proprietary system or partners with someone else on connectivity features, Apple risks losing money and access to consumer data. We’re reaching a point where manufacturers are testing things like wireless fuel payments and direct integration with voice-controlled devices such as Amazon’s Alexa, Echo, and Google Home. If Steve Jobs were alive today, he’d undoubtedly be telling his team to get in on that while simultaneously trying to figure out a way to take credit for the original premise.

Yours truly may find that a piece of paper works better than asking a box connected to the internet what he wanted from the store. But the fact remains that home devices and digital assistants are insanely popular. Every family member I have owns one, despite all of them expressing severe privacy concerns whenever I am around. Apple is able to leverage that seemingly unstoppable trend as it moves into automobiles could make it vast sums of money. But vehicle manufactures have also realized that consumer data is worth something and might be less inclined to give the company access. They’re building data centers and mobile apps of their own now and could soon find themselves offering everything IronHeart had hoped to.

[Image: withGod/Shutterstock]

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32 Comments on “Report: Apple Wants iPhone to Have More Control Over Cars...”


  • avatar
    dwford

    I have zero interest in this and already actively avoid CarPlay,

  • avatar
    JMII

    I predicted this. Why would auto makers continue to develop these various UIs when Apple has already proven they are better at it. Unlock the car via your phone, it knows all your personal settings, like seat position, preferred temp, favorite music then automatically checks your morning commute for traffic snags.

    I don’t have CarPlay in my current vehicles but several friends do and its basically an extension of your phone. If you love your iPhone (and most do) then you likely love CarPlay. I’m looking forward to using it in my next vehicle.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      Car Play is kind of limited – you can’t use it to access EVERYTHING on your phone. Most notably, I don’t think you can use it with Gmail (probably wouldn’t want to anyway). You can get texts, though – they’re read off verbally, and you respond the same way. If you have Apple Music, it’s much better than Bluetoothing your music – you can search verbally or on-screen through your library.

      You can also do Siri searches – the other day my girlfriend and I were arguing over how much a llama weighs, so I did a search. Turns out those suckers weigh 400 pounds when they’re full grown.

      Overall, it’s very useful, and with the voice-actuation features, I haven’t had many distraction issues.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    Hate away, but I wish I could access Starbucks with CarPlay.

    As I said…hate away.

    On a positive note, I can say “Computer – show google maps” in my Jean-Luc Picard voice, and voila! Warms my nerdy heart every time.

    • 0 avatar
      ajla

      I don’t hate you or the existence of CarPlay
      However, I do hate the aesthetics of “GIANT SCREENS!” interior design that’s taking over. It seems like this will make it worse.

      • 0 avatar
        FreedMike

        Entirely possible, but my car has a pretty small screen (I want to say it’s 7″) and it gets the job done.

        I’d be OK with GIANT SCREENS for the instruments, a smaller one for infotainment, and regular ol’ switches and buttons for everything else. Lincoln does a nice job mixing interface types like this on the Aviator. But it seems to be the outlier.

        • 0 avatar
          JMII

          I too am OK with big screens as long as they are integrated well. The giant iPad stuck on the dash is ridiculous.

          Sadly the days of physical switches and buttons appears to be over. I’ve got mixed reactions on this. Knobs are easier to use by feel, but being able to add, change or customize layouts or displays is great.

          • 0 avatar
            ajla

            “but being able to add, change or customize layouts or displays is great.”

            I must lack creativity because I don’t see the big appeal. Plus, you’re still constrained by the screen itself. I also expect once the 96 month loan is done these screens will look as dated as an Atari 2600 did in 1999.

            I keep the display in my Stinger off most of the time, I think adjusting to these mega-sized, multifunction screens will be difficult for me.

  • avatar
    Fred

    I thought that Apple tried this before and the automakers didn’t want to submit to Apple’s control. Especially if they are using Android, QNX, Linux and more what are they going to do? Is Apple going to provide an API for them to integrate or do they want to replace their existing system? Besides Apple maybe number 1 phone in the USA, but what about the rest of the world? Then what about all us Android users? More questions than answers.

    • 0 avatar
      thegamper

      This. Apple has to own and exert control over everything, even after the point of sale. Android is a much better integration with open source software and actually catering to the automaker vs. Apple’s way where the automaker is expected to cater to Apple for the privilege. Android will allow iphone users to access the features (provided Apple will allow it). Apple is more likely to lock out Android users just because. Not everyone wants to gleefully throw money at Apple, particularly when it isn’t the best fit anyway.

  • avatar

    So Bidon will know your every step, your every breath. You, your soul will belong to Government, your wife will divorce you, your children will betray you and your phone will rat you. And all that from the company that in 80s promised to free us from The Big Brother.

    • 0 avatar
      DAC17

      At least spell the name right…

    • 0 avatar
      golden2husky

      ILO – the gov’t does not care about your whereabouts and what you are doing. Big business does so they can separate you from your money. Just look at Google – they probably know what your favorite position is. I avoid Google products whenever possible because they make their living on stealing and profiting from your violated privacy. If you have an open mic to the internet in your house you are inviting them in.

      Technology should offer an improvement on the “old ways” of doing things. If not, then that’s suing technology for technology’s sake. Sometimes using a pen is still the better way…

      • 0 avatar
        JMII

        +1 the gov could careless what I am doing, just make sure the IRS gets their money.

        However Google, FaceBook, Amazon… they are about your information. Apple is better in this regard, their products cost more but that is because they are not selling your personal data. Are they using this data? Oh for sure, but it stays inside their walled garden.

        • 0 avatar
          ajla

          Too bad the government also doesn’t care what businesses are doing as long as they are getting their money.

          • 0 avatar
            FreedMike

            The government could certainly get involved in the whole info-sharing issue, but consumers aren’t insisting it do so. Why? Because they don’t know about the issue, or don’t care.

          • 0 avatar
            ajla

            There is a lot of “Big Tech” talk from both parties but it focuses almost solely on content rather than data ownership.

      • 0 avatar

        Bidon is just a puppet. Big Brother lives distributed all over the world in Google servers. It all does not matter until one morning (or night) FBI agents knock on your door, unannounced, with arrest warrant in hand.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      Quick, grab the smelling salts!

    • 0 avatar
      slavuta

      I wonder even with these latest developments. For example, if parents are terrorists and government wants to have a full control over your children, why go that far? Just take children from parents in the hospitals and allow weekend visitations, and brainwash them away. This is the system they have in Communist Vietnam currently. Children live in schools and go home on weekends.

      So, just rent your car from the government and they should know your every move

    • 0 avatar
      kjhkjlhkjhkljh kljhjkhjklhkjh

      you have a internet connection. they already know, you have a phone they already know. If you are on parler, telegram, tiktok .. they already know. ToR wont save you. We own you.

      • 0 avatar

        PRC government and tech companies do a great job in that direction. China is far ahead of US in those technologies. PRC Government established total control over population utilizing technologies developed here in USA. As usual America stays technologically backward. And it looks that we will also lose the race in genetically engineering human species to China. China has no racial problems or 1st world complexes to prevent then from creating Chinese race of supermen.

  • avatar
    redapple

    DAC, I can help out “Inside.”
    Here, it ‘s spelled X I D E N

  • avatar
    sckid213

    I don’t think the automakers will buy into this. What’s in it for them to turn control over to Apple like this? Especially in this media climate with the tech companies turning into New Tobacco.

    Also, IMO “IronHeart” is a terrible codename for this from an optics perspective to the OEMs — it sounds aggressive and war-like, like a new system that is coming for the digital innards of all vehicles…which it is. Something friendlier implying synergy and cooperation would have been better.

  • avatar
    96redse5sp

    “ Let’s put aside that reliability isn’t, for the most part, related to transmission type. ”

    I think you’re glossing over the single biggest reason to buy a manual – the fact that in many models, the manual version is a totally different car and far more reliable than the the automatic.

    Specifically, look at Honda V6s from about 1998-2010. Or Nissans with the CVT from about 2008-2013. The Ford Focuses and Fiestas from 2011-2016. Or the Ford Contour (and Mystique) from 1995-2000.

  • avatar
    thegamper

    I don’t really understand where this stereotype originated or if other people feel this way. I am personally not aware of any stick shift snobs. It is sort of a tribe though. I suppose if can’t break into that tribe because you lack the skills and or the equipment, I could see someone getting upset.

    I picture the author as a high school senior, his parents just picked him up a decently quick and sporty ride, but one that cannot be had with a stick at any price. He parks next to the gearhead/tuning crowd that are all driving modified vehicles with manuals. They turn their backs on the interloper. The interloper believes all males who drive a stick shift feel superior and we get a story. Seems like a logical way we arrive at the place were we are now with this story being written, likely the result of its author being personally hurt through exclusion or something at some point in his life.

    Just go find a stick and learn. It can be done in an afternoon. Then you can be smug too if you want.

  • avatar
    tankinbeans

    Why does this want to sound like a half-baked competitor to Android Automotive, which is already shipping in some cars (Volvos being one brand – I believe)?

    Having not used CarPlay, and being more familiar with Android Auto (not to be confused with Android Automotive), I can’t say how difficult it is switching between the iPhone interface and the native interface in the car. I honestly can’t imagine that it is that bad.

    About the only thing I think might be helpful would be for the car to recognize when I person is with the smartphone interface and the native interface, so voice controls can work for both.

    For example, I have Mazda’s 2nd generation infotainment system (a big improvement over the first), but it has the demerits that reviewers called out. Changing radio stations and Sirius stations is a bit more clunky than it should be. Voice controls would make that process much more simple. However, as soon as a phone is plugged in any voice control is automatically shunted to the smartphone connected and cannot be used to control the infotainment in the car. I recently went on a roadtrip and was using Mrs. Google for navigation, but I wanted to use Sirius in areas where connection was spotty (about the only time it’s worth a hoot). If I ever wanted to change the station, I took to quickly unplugging the phone, yelling the station name, and plugging back in. It’s a decent workaround, but should be unnecessary.

  • avatar
    thornmark

    Lecklitner has a bad case of stick envy and who cares what he thinks

  • avatar
    Old Scold

    I have a vague memory of a TV commercial, maybe from the 80s or 90s, for some kind of sporty car, with quick clips of different actors mentioning its virtues, and one of them was a cute girl who said, “Guys dig chicks who can drive a stick.” Does anyone else remember this or was I in dreamland?

  • avatar
    la834

    The new “focus” feature and others on the newly released iOS 15 go a long way toward ending most unwanted alerts if you set it up.

  • avatar
    Lightspeed

    I will never drive a car that talks to the internet.

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