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Apple to control your car by phone
New iPhone-based initiative to allow users access to vehicle controls remotely
11 Oct 2021
By MATT BROGAN
APPLE will soon offer iPhone users the ability to control certain functions of their vehicle via a new interface known internally as IronHeart.
The initiative – which will require OEM cooperation to implement – could allow users to operate systems including climate control, service information, infotainment controls, and even seating positions via their mobile phones.
It’s understood the system would work in a similar manner to key-based technologies already offered by companies including BMW, Tesla, and Volkswagen, but as a broadly accessible ‘app’ which acts as an extension of Apple’s existing CarPlay system.
Apple, whose CarPlay interface is used by millions of motorists around the globe, is understood to still be in the early stages of development of its IronHeart project.
It’s believed the new iPhone-based interface will serve as a ‘remote extension’ of CarPlay’s capabilities, and could eventually span to control “nearly all aspects of the car”.
Once implemented, IronHeart would negate the need for users to switch between CarPlay and proprietary systems to manage key controls, forming a seamless technological platform that could be controlled from the backseat, the loungeroom, or even from another country.
As well as adjusting preferences between users, and checking vehicle health, charging status, and even parking location, it’s believed the technology may also be used to govern certain controls – such as radio volume and speed – to offer parents of teenage drivers added peace of mind.
Android users will know that the rival platform already offers a similar initiative in the form of its Android Automotive OS (AAOS).
Tailored for use in vehicles including Audi, Ford, GM, and Volvo – and introduced in early 2017 – the platform was developed by Google and Intel to provide an operating system codebase manufacturers can use to develop their own operating systems.
In certain vehicles, AAOS already allows control of infotainment tasks and vehicle-specific functions, including climate control and navigation.
Honda, Lucid Motors, the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi alliance, and Stellantis have already announced their intent to use AAOS in future vehicles.
Although timing for the release of Apple’s IronHeart is still a closely guarded secret, the initiative is said to represent Apple’s strongest push into vehicular technology since CarPlay was released in 2014.
The infotainment system is already offered in over 600 new car models, and available extensively in aftermarket headunits.
The system comes as a progression of Apple’s CarKey functionality launched in 2020. The feature allows compatible vehicles to be located and unlocked using an iPhone or Apple Watch, while also providing electric-vehicle routing and charging locations, and the ability to sense when an electric vehicle is connected to a charger and provide status information back to the user.
The project could provide Apple with insights helpful to its efforts to produce a self-driving car, though the company says it would not collect a user’s or car’s data as part of the initiative.
Either way, gaining a stronger foothold in the automotive space will help Apple to keep its iPhone and Apple Watch products in the front of consumer’s minds.
The Apple iPhone is the company’s best-selling device, accounting for around half of all sales in 2020 – or nearly AU$187.3 billion.
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