Where is Apple’s proposed ‘next-gen CarPlay’?

Next-gen CarPlay key art
(Image credit: Apple)

Apple’s ecosystem of apps, services, and hardware goes wherever you go, and CarPlay has continued to improve in the last few years. It’s more customizable and useful than it’s ever been, but it’s apparently not enough for the tech giant.

While rumors continue to swirl (as they have done for years) about the potential for an Apple Car, Apple revealed its “next generation of CarPlay” at WWDC 22 - and we’ve heard little about it since, despite being initially slated for late 2023.

So, at the time of writing with just 4 weeks to go until we reach 2024 — where is it? With this in mind, here's all we know so far - and why it may be taking so long.

Stuck in Neutral?

CarPlay setup in 2020 Nissan Qashqai

(Image credit: Future/Lloyd Coombes)

It’s worth noting that this writer purchased a car this year, and CarPlay was a key box I wanted ticked when I was looking for one. Being able to use my apps, listen to my messages, and link to my music and podcast apps is worth its weight in gold for me.

I was surprised, though, to find that despite CarPlay debuting in 2014 (with “iOS in the Car” before that), it’s not as ubiquitous as I expected. While a majority of car manufacturers offer it as standard, I had to buy a Nissan (my chosen manufacturer) from 2019 onwards to have the functionality as standard.

That’s five years after CarPlay launched, and it’s even harder to find wireless CarPlay functionality - at least in the UK. While there are third-party options that add CarPlay functionality (and that of Android Auto, too), it’s something to be considered - even the current CarPlay setup isn’t as common as you may think.

Stalled It

Part of the challenge of the upcoming version of CarPlay is just how ambitious it is. As standard, if you plug in your iPhone at present you can listen to your music, use some of your apps, or make calls, usually with a Siri button on your steering wheel or dashboard.

The next generation of CarPlay will extend iOS throughout your vehicle’s instruments and systems, meaning you’ll be able to see your speed, temperature, and potentially even parking sensors through Apple’s overlay.

As Apple said back at WWDC 2022, “CarPlay has fundamentally changed the way people interact with their vehicles, and the next generation of CarPlay goes even further by deeply integrating with a car’s hardware," Apple stated. "CarPlay will be able to provide content for multiple screens within the vehicle, creating an experience that is unified and consistent.”

As would be expected from car manufacturers, they're hesitant to allow a third party to be so tightly integrated with a customer’s vehicle — especially with a company that appears to have its sights set on building its own vehicle in the future.

While Ford’s 2024 Lincoln Nautilus could mark a luxurious debut for the next-gen version of CarPlay, many manufacturers understand that their ‘infotainment’ systems are a source of interest for customers - and potentially a source of revenue, too.

With subscriptions for heated seats, improved top speed, and more, Apple’s attempts to cut in are likely proving more difficult than expected. In fact, General Motors dropped support for CarPlay in all forms back in March, forcing users into its own in-car software.

All of this means that Apple is likely going to cut some deals with a bunch of car-makers, or risk rolling out its new vision for CarPlay to a smaller subset of cars. There’s definitely an argument that the car companies should leave the software to the software experts, be that Apple or Google - my 2020 Nissan’s touchscreen interface is a mess, to the point where I exclusively use CarPlay. Sure, things have undoubtedly improved since then, but with iOS CarPlay seeing regular updates, let’s hope manufacturers see the light.

What has Apple said?

CarPlay setup in 2020 Nissan Qashqai

(Image credit: Future/Lloyd Coombes)

In preparation for this article, I reached out to Apple for an updated timeline on the next-generation CarPlay, and perhaps unsurprisingly, Apple did not respond to a request for comment.

Apple’s site does offer a brief blurb about the next generation of CarPlay at the middle of the page, stating in orange that “Vehicle announcements coming in late 2023” — seemingly unchanged from the initial reveal back in June 2022.

Regardless of whether we'll hear about a delay for this new version of CarPlay, or if we see a press release announcing it before 2023 wraps up, we'll keep you updated on the rollout at iMore if that does happen. For now, however, it appears our dreams of Apple running the internals of our car are on hold until at least 2024.

Lloyd Coombes

Lloyd Coombes is a freelance writer with a specialism in Apple tech. From his first, hand-me-down iMac, he’s been working with Apple products for over a decade, and while he loves his iPhone and Mac, the iPad will always have his heart for reasons he still can’t quite fathom.

Since moving from blogging to writing professionally, Lloyd’s work can be found at TechRadar, Macworld, TechAdvisor and plenty more.

He’s also the Editor in Chief at GGRecon.com, and on the rare occasion he’s not writing you’ll find him spending time with his son, or working hard at the gym (while wearing an Apple Watch, naturally). You can find him on Twitter @lloydcoombes.