New Apple CarPlay report spills all the details on new features and how it will work

Apple CarPlay on a full dashboard
(Image credit: Apple)

Apple first unveiled the next generation of the Apple CarPlay system over two years ago, and so far there’s been very little to show for it. Fortunately WWDC 2024 revealed a number of key details about the new in-car system, and confirmed that it will start rolling out later this year. Now the conference is over some new details have emerged — including the fact it’ll be wireless only.

The Verge has revealed a number of details about the next version of CarPlay, which expands the system from a single screen to the entirety of your dashboard. The idea is that your iPhone will be hooked into your car’s systems like climate control, speedometers and battery range.

The Verge’s report goes into the challenges of developing this new CarPlay system, least of which is ensuring that the whole system doesn’t break down if your phone disconnects. That’s something that could happen more often because the system is only going to be available wirelessly.

Why? It’s not actually clear. You’d think that a wired connection would be a lot more useful, especially now that iPhone 15 and other future iPhones support USB-C and faster data transfer speeds. But apparently Apple does want the system to start up as soon as you get into your car, which wouldn’t necessarily happen if you have to plug your phone in first. 

What's Punch Through UI?

CarPlay will also allow carmakers to add their own interfaces and systems for features that Apple can’t always account for itself, like reversing cameras or driver assistance features. These things vary from car to car, and some of them update pretty regularly. Since it’s unlikely Apple could develop a CarPlay interface for them all, it’s much simpler for Carplay to let the existing interface take over whenever it’s needed.

This system is called a “Punch Through UI," and apparently there’s no limit to what carmakers can offer this way. In fact, much of the onus on how the new CarPlay works seems to be on automakers, rather than Apple, giving them considerable control in how the interface and controls operate inside their car. It all sounds rather complicated under the surface, and it means no two types of car will have an identical CarPlay experience.

The Verge speculates that a lot of this, along with carmakers’ ability to customize the new CarPlay interface to match their own brand, is a ploy to try and speed up adoption. It's become clear that car companies don't want to give up their own in-car designs and cede control to Apple.

It’s one thing to offer a screen for phone connectivity, but it’s another to give up the entire dashboard. Even if it is potentially more useful for drivers if their phones can access in-car systems and data.

So far we know that Porsche and Aston Martin will be launching cars that support the new CarPlay later this year. Other carmakers that have previously pledged to support the software include Audi, Ford, Honda, Jaguar/Land Rover, Mercedes, Nissan, Renault, Volvo, Acura, Infiniti and Lincoln. However it’s not clear if and when the first cars will launch with the software. 

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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.