Apple reveals all about upcoming updates – but here’s what it means for motorists

Tech giant promises improvements to AI voice assistant and software to battle car sickness.

A look at upcoming Apple CarPlay (Credit: Apple)
Apple CarPlay 2024 A look at upcoming Apple CarPlay (Credit: Apple)

With an estimated 1.46 billion active iPhone users across the globe, it comes as no surprise that many modern drivers want to plug their devices into a chosen vehicle and replicate the software experience on the move.

Up until this point, Apple CarPlay has been relatively slow to develop beyond offering a smattering of vehicle-friendly entertainment apps (think podcasts and music), the ability to have Siri read out WhatsApp and text messages, as well as navigate via Apple Maps, Waze and a handful of EV-friendly applications.

That’s all about to change, as the tech giant chose this year’s Worldwide Developers Conference (often dubbed WWDC) to reveal more about its plans for its iOS 18 operating system and future CarPlay updates.

On that list is a more intelligent AI voice assistant, as well as new Vehicle Motion cues that are designed to help combat the effects of car sickness. There’s no concrete date for the rollout of iOS 18, but Apple will likely use the launch of iPhone 16 in September to debut the software.

Siri gets smarter

One of the most important factors when interacting with any screen or device while driving is safety, and smart voice assistants offer the possibility of making requests or uttering queries without taking eyes off the road and hands off the wheel.

Apple revealed at WWDC 24 that its voice assistant, Siri, is about the get a huge boost. With the upcoming launch of iOS 18, Apple’s latest software, the voice assistant will be able to access ChatGPT-4’s cloud-based wisdom to answer any questions it struggles to find the answers for.

Apple introduces increased AI capabilities into iOS 18
Apple introduces increased AI capabilities into iOS 18

What’s more, it will be able to understand natural language better, with the ability to decipher muddled words or incoherent requests. It will also use the context of the conversation to offer further meaningful information, offering up a weather update when you ask it an ETA to a chosen location, for example.

It forms a part of Apple’s wider suite of Artificial Intelligence-powered features, which it calls Apple Intelligence. Unfortunately, this will only be available on iPhone 15 Pro, iPhone 15 Pro Max, and iPad and Mac models using the Apple M1 chip or later.

Apple battles car sickness

This won’t apply to drivers, who clearly need to keep eyes on the road at all times, but passengers in a vehicle that like to use devices will soon enjoy a feature that is set to reduce car sickness.

It’s called Vehicle Motion Cues and it is designed to battle the sensory conflict between what a person sees and what they feel. Apple uses animated dots on the edges of the screen that represent changes in vehicle motion to help reduce sensory conflict.

Apple iOS updates will include Vehicle Motion Cues to combat car sickness
Apple iOS updates will include Vehicle Motion Cues to combat car sickness

The feature will be activated via the control centre on iPhones running the latest iOS 18 when it is rolled out later this year.

CarPlay gets a serious overhaul

Apple is yet to set a firm date on when an eagerly anticipated update to its CarPlay in-car entertainment software is due to arrive, but the most recent overhaul will arguably be the most thorough yet.

During several “coding sessions” at the recent WWDC 2024, which aim to give industry insiders and software engineers a better look at upcoming features, Apple went into detail about how the next generation of CarPlay will look and feel, including confirmation that the overall design can be tailored to match the branding of today’s automakers.

The Apple CarPlay experience in a Porsche, for example, will be very different to that found in a Renault.

Also, drivers will be able to do more without leaving the comfort of the CarPlay surroundings. This is achieved by allowing key vehicle data to “punch through” Apple’s user interface.

More vehicle control functionality will be available through upcoming Apple CarPlay updates
More vehicle control functionality will be available through upcoming Apple CarPlay updates

It will come in the form of new apps, which will allow drivers and passengers to change vehicle settings, such as drive modes or alter vehicle assistance systems, via Apple’s familiar interface, rather than leaving it and diving into the car’s menu screens.

In addition to this, Apple previewed air-conditioning and interior comfort features, which will display on the main CarPlay home screen, as well as the ability for manufacturers to design a bespoke look and feel for the menus screens, logos and backgrounds.

Aston Martin and Porsche have both already said they will reveal the latest generation of Apple CarPlay integration soon, allowing the tech giant to take care of the digital instrument binnacle, as well as both driver and passenger infotainment displays.