Apple CarPlay is getting 3 big upgrades with iOS 18 — what you need to know

An photo of Apple CarPly in use
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

Apple just announced a bunch of new accessibility features coming to iOS 18 later this year. And Apple CarPlay is getting some welcome upgrades as part of this push. 

According to Apple's press release, three new new features are coming to Apple's in-car software, likely alongside iOS 18: Voice control, Color Filters and Sound Recognition. These are billed as accessibility features, but I have a feeling that they could prove useful to drivers of all kinds. There’s also a new feature for passengers, not related to CarPlay, which should help reduce the effects of motion sickness.

The idea behind voice control is to let drivers navigate through the CarPlay interface and control apps using their voice — and nothing else. That’s a feature that sounds incredibly useful, and is so basic that I’m surprised nobody thought of it sooner. Apple doesn’t go into much detail, but this should mean you don’t have to fiddle with your car’s touchscreen to get things done.

Touchscreens are pretty horrendous ways to control in-car functions, since they’re incredibly difficult to use without looking at them. When you’re driving you need to keep your eyes on the road at all times, so your options become flailing around at a glossy screen that offers zero tactile feedback or take your eyes off the road to make sure you’re pressing the right thing. Neither of which is particularly safe to do.

Voice commands give you an extra option that could make your life easier while keeping you safer behind the wheel. 

apple carplay sound detection feature for deaf and hard of hearing drivers

(Image credit: Apple)

Sound Recognition is for drivers who are deaf or hard of hearing. This feature is built to alert drivers about specific sounds like car horns and sirens and will show up in CarPlay as a notification. Let’s just hope it can differentiate between real world noises and any sound effects used in music or radio ads.

Color Filters are aimed towards colorblind drivers, with the goal of making the CarPlay interface visually easier to use. This update will also include additional visual accessibility features, such as the ability to bolden or enlarge text. This will be useful for those who struggle with the current CarPlay interface, or who simply want to change things up for their own personal reasons.

apple carplay vehicle motion detection for lessening motion sickness

(Image credit: Apple)

Finally, passengers will be able to take advantage of Vehicle Motion Cues, which uses on-screen graphics to help reduce motion sickness. Because staring at a screen in a moving vehicle is an easy way to get nauseous. So iPhones and iPads will register the movement of the vehicle and use animated moving dots to visualize how the vehicle is moving and help reduce sensory conflicts.

Expect to hear a lot more about iOS 18 and Apple's plans for CarPlay at WWDC 2024 on June 10. 

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Tom Pritchard
UK Phones Editor

Tom is the Tom's Guide's UK Phones Editor, tackling the latest smartphone news and vocally expressing his opinions about upcoming features or changes. It's long way from his days as editor of Gizmodo UK, when pretty much everything was on the table. He’s usually found trying to squeeze another giant Lego set onto the shelf, draining very large cups of coffee, or complaining about how terrible his Smart TV is.