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Apple CarPlay set for a major update, including new dashboard screen, this fall

Apple announced a number of updates for CarPlay at its annual Worldwide Developers Conference in San Jose, California, on June 3. They change the overall look of CarPlay, which has become an integral part of countless commutes since launching in 2014. Apple claims CarPlay is now available in 90% of new cars sold in the United States.

Coinciding with the launch of iOS 13, the updated CarPlay gets a new “Dashboard” view that allows users to see multiple apps at once. So, for example, drivers can now have navigation and music functions open at the same time, on the same screen. That functionality is available on some automakers’ built-in infotainment systems, but this is the first time it’s been applied to CarPlay. The music display has also been redesigned to better emphasize album artwork, according to Apple.

CarPlay will also overlay Siri voice recognition on top of other apps, providing a more streamlined user experience. Currently, users have to open a dedicated screen to activate Siri. Apple also added a calendar app to CarPlay, and now lets Siri work with third-party navigation and audio apps.

Also relevant to cars is the redesign of Apple Maps. Apple claims to have driven 4 million miles to reconstruct the “base map” that underpins navigation functions for the app. The company claims Maps now has more extensive road coverage, better pedestrian data, more accurate addresses, and “more detailed land cover.” Apple also added a “Collections” feature that can be used to share destinations, as well as a “Favorites” category for places a user frequently visits. Finally, a “Look Around” feature adds street-level views.

The proliferation of CarPlay (and its Android Auto counterpart) has helped normalize the use of smartphones in cars. Many automakers offered smartphone integration prior to CarPlay, but these systems were often clunky and took time to learn. The advantage of CarPlay is its integration of familiar the Apple user experience, making it more intuitive. But a more intuitive setup doesn’t really address the main issue with smartphone use in cars: distraction. Even if it’s easier to use, CarPlay still invites drivers to prod at touchscreens, compose text messages, and generally not pay attention to the road.

The updated Apple CarPlay is expected to launch this fall as part of iOS 13. The operating system was one of many new products and features Apple announced at WWDC 2019, so be sure to read our full coverage of the event.

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