words: George, photos: Apple
Apple made car news yesterday in its keynote address at its Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC20). The focus was on the technology firm’s operating systems improvements planned for IOS20, and this is applicable to the driving experience in a number of ways.
There’s no doubt that map and navigation software is a hotly contested space, and Apple’s own Maps app fights for your attention with the likes of Google Maps, Waze, not to mention your Audi’s own satellite view fed MMI map system. In order to keep Maps competitive, the app was front and center to Apple’s presentation.
For starters, Apple is adding Finding Great Places functionality to maps. Though any number of decentralized apps offer this sort of function, Apple’s aim here is to make the traveler and explorer more aware of their surroundings by utilizing guides and recommendations based on your location and needs. You can even save particular guides you found useful, and updates are made automatically.
Next up, Apple’s adding EV vehicle routing and also bike routing to its navigational tool. In the case of EV routing, Apple shares that Maps will track your current charge and factor in things like elevation and weather, automatically adding charging stops along your route. Apple also shares that Maps will also know which types of chargers work with your car, so you don’t get stuck at a Tesla supercharger unable to get juice.
Apple confirmed that they’re already working with BMW and Ford to support EV routing on their vehicles. Audi wasn’t listed by name, but Apple did say they’ll be adding many more brands in the future.
Another interesting feature includes the addition of congestion and green zones to maps so that drivers can see where they are, along with alternate routing options. The examples of green zones shared were places like Paris where portions of the city become a green zone, though it would be natural to see this functionality also apply to HOV lanes or routes that are more common in the USA.
Not yet applicable in American markets, one last bit of functionality seems made especially for China. There, drivers will be able to securely store their license plate number on their iPhone so that Maps can let them know which days they can enter congested cities. While this is a Chinese phenomenon for now, you never know when it will be handy in other markets.
With Apple CarPlay now ubiquitous in current-generation Audi models, upgrades to Apple’s car integration system are highly relevant to the Audi owner experience. Here, some options like custom wallpaper offer personalization you’ve already had on your phone, however it’s the addition of new app compatibility that sounds like the more applicable improvement.
In regard to apps, Apple confirms they will be opening new categories including parking, EV charging and quick food ordering. It’s the EV charging note in which we took particular interest, as we assume apps for charging networks like Electrify America and EVGo will go active on CarPlay, along with other EV support apps like PlugShare. Worth noting, no specific apps were confirmed in the presentation.
One last bit of IOS14 functionality worth repeating is that of Apple’s plans for car keys. During the presentation, Apple used the new 2021 BMW 5-series to demonstrate this new functionality. In the presentation, the driver was able to unlock the car and start it while either dropping the phone in the wireless charging dock or even leaving it in your pocket or bag as you would with a keyless entry fob.
Apple also touts security benefits. Should your phone goes missing, you can turn off your keys remotely via iCloud. It’s also easier to share access to your car without a physical key, even able to share temporary access via iMessage. And, with each key you share, you can set options such as restricted driving profile for teen drivers or valets.
Here again, Audi wasn’t confirmed to be part of the development. Even still, you have to expect Audi is considering this given their technology focus.