I am a huge fan of CarPlay. There are flaws, obviously, but I think it is generally a really good, easy to use, application.
Patent Hints at Exciting CarPlay Possibilities
While CarPlay is great, but at the moment it only works fully on one screen. However, a newly granted patent indicates that could change. The patent, registered by Apple back in December 2018 and granted Tuesday, describes an “Instrument cluster metadata to support second screen.” Clearly, we do not know at this stage if such a development will arrive at some point as part of iOS 14, or come to fruition at all. However, if it did, it would be a major step forward for CarPlay. Even fairly low-end cars now have multiple screens – the main dashboard and something above the steering wheel, for instance. The patent clearly indicates tailoring CarPlay output to that secondary display. Making that kind of setup fully embedded with CarPlay would greatly improve ease of use. Depending on the car’s controls, you could potentially change the song playing on Apple Music or put on a podcast using the display that’s in front of you.
Focus on Navigation and Safety
However, the motivating factor for Apple though appears to be driver safety, particularly in regards to navigation. The patent describes “barriers and limitations to a very desired use case,” i.e. using an iPhone to navigate. “Handheld devices have relatively small screens that are difficult to view while maintaining the wide field of view for driving,” the patents notes. “Device mounts are often cumbersome and intrusive. Operating a vehicle while interacting with a handheld device is dangerous and illegal in some jurisdictions.”
Instead, Apple wants secondary displays in cars to be able to process and display CarPlay information in a properly formatted way. It believes that this will help improve driver safety. I agree that it would be a major step forward. As I say, we will have to wait a while to get any confirmed details. However, the potential possibilities deriving from this patent, not least for navigation, are very exciting indeed.