Apple CarPlay gets an update, plus, replace your car key with your iPhone

Zac Palmer

Apple announced a slew of new features and updates at its 2020 Worldwide Developer Conference today, many of them directly related to the automotive world. 

To start, Apple CarPlay is getting an update. There’s no new user interface, but users can pick a custom wallpaper now as the screen’s backsplash. Additionally, there are three new categories of apps that are allowable within the interface: parking, EV charging and food ordering. There will certainly be more manufacturer-made EV charging apps made available in the future, so Apple CarPlay integration makes a lot of sense. 

At the event, Apple also announced a new system that lets users share digital car keys with friends and family members via the company’s iMessage system — basically, you can allow someone full access to your car via text message. It will initially be launching with the updated 2021 BMW 5 Series. However, BMW says these models will also be compatible with the feature if manufactured after July 1, 2020: 2 Series, 3 Series, 4 Series, 5 Series, 6 Series, 8 Series, X5, X6, X7, X5 M, X6 M and Z4

You will be able to start your car by placing your iPhone in the smartphone tray and pressing the start button in BMWs. The German car manufacturer also says the phone will continue to work as a key for up to five hours if it powers down due to low battery. The system will work with phones running the current iOS 13 operating system (and iOS 14) so that owners can start using it when BMW vehicles arrive. Apple said more cars that work with the system will come to market next year.

Apple also updated Apple Maps with information about electric vehicle charging stations, working with BMW and Ford to show stations compatible with the user’s vehicle. The feature is called EV Routing. It will suggest special EV routes that take charging stations into account. The app will also look at weather, elevation and the car’s current charge state when planning out your route. BMW says the first car it will produce that’s compatible with this integration is the electric i4.

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