What to expect from the new Apple CarPlay at WWDC 2023

Apple CarPlay on Polestar 2
(Image credit: Polestar)

Apple’s WWDC 2023 keynote is only hours away at this point, and while all eyes will doubtless be on the unveiling of the rumored mixed reality headset, that’s not all we have in store. We’re expecting new MacBooks, sure, but also updates to iOS, macOS and more information on CarPlay.

The latter was given a big overhaul at last year’s WWDC where it was billed as the ‘next generation’ of Apple’s automotive offering. Crucially, CarPlay with iOS 16 is now able to read information from cars and incorporate their features, such as the radio or climate control. There was also added support for cars with multiple screens. This could mean the central infotainment console as well as the driver's display behind the wheel.

This year, Apple is widely expected to give us an update on how this revamped CarPlay has been received as well as an update on how the rollout is progressing. 

In April, Ford revealed the luxury 2024 Lincoln Nautilus which seems like the first car to support Apple’s upgraded CarPlay. The interior features an ultrawide display that wraps around the cabin from driver to passenger. This seems like the first implementation of the new CarPlay system, although both Ford and Apple have stopped short of confirming this. However, our sister site iMore points out the Nautilus’ interior looks extremely similar to what Apple showcased at last year’s CarPlay segment of WWDC.

Meanwhile, the Polestar 2 (from Volvo’s electric sub-brand) pushed out an OTA update this week to give “extended functionality” to iPhone users wanting to get more from CarPlay. This includes being able to answer phone calls from the steering wheel and viewing Apple Maps on the display behind the wheel as well as the main infotainment screen. Additionally, the update (which also went to Volvo’s electric XC40) integrates “additional phone and media information on the home screen tile.”

Down the road

Apple CarPlay

(Image credit: Apple)

Some automakers have signalled their intentions to move away from CarPlay (and Android Auto) in favor of developing their own in-house systems. Earlier this year, GM announced it would be cutting off access to CarPlay in its newest lineup of electric vehicles. And, of course, you won’t find anything from Google or Apple inside a Tesla. So, it could be the case Apple uses WWDC 2023 to delve into potential partnerships and other ways it can strengthen its position behind the wheel.

As iMore points out, Ford’s CEO Jim Farley was formerly Vice President of the Special Projects Group at Apple and has suggested the auto industry needed to lean more on U.S. silicon in the wake of the global semiconductor shortage. Could we see a marriage between the two whereby Apple supplies Ford with its M-Series chips? Anything’s possible.

However, if we put our sensible hats on for a minute, given the changes introduced to CarPlay last year and the focus on mixed reality at the present time, we may not see much more than a cursory update to CarPlay when Apple execs take to the stage later today. At the very least, it would be nice to hear about some new features Apple may have been able to squeeze in over the last twelve months. 

At any rate, you can follow along with our WWDC 2023 live blog right here to stay up-to-date with the latest announcements as they happen. 

More from Tom's Guide

Jeff Parsons
UK Editor In Chief

Jeff is UK Editor-in-Chief for Tom’s Guide looking after the day-to-day output of the site’s British contingent. Rising early and heading straight for the coffee machine, Jeff loves nothing more than dialling into the zeitgeist of the day’s tech news.

A tech journalist for over a decade, he’s travelled the world testing any gadget he can get his hands on. Jeff has a keen interest in fitness and wearables as well as the latest tablets and laptops. A lapsed gamer, he fondly remembers the days when problems were solved by taking out the cartridge and blowing away the dust.