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Apple's Latest Crazy Idea for the Apple Car Is a Gigantic iPad Serving as a Table

We've known for a while that Apple was working on an Apple Car, but with the company remaining tight-lipped on the project, all the information we got surfaced through unofficial channels.
Apple Car interior concept 10 photos
Photo: Bogdan Popa/autoevolution/Vanarama
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Apple's patent applications are a good way to anticipate how the Cupertino-based iPhone maker plans to turn its first vehicle into a revolutionary piece of technology and means of transportation.

A recently-filed patent describing a so-called movable support surface does the same thing, providing us with an early look at how Apple plans to turn the cabin into a working environment.

Technology giants have been trying to boost users' productivity beyond the office for many years, and car interiors appear to be their next focus. Apple could take the lead once the Apple Car goes live, and this movable support surface could help.

While the patent application includes many technical details, Apple's idea pretty much comes down to a smart table whose role would be increasing occupants' productivity. In other words, vehicle passengers would be able to work on the device, access their apps, collaborate, and connect with others while traveling.

In one version, Apple explains that the table could be placed right in the center of the cabin, just like a living room table. The purpose is as simple as possible: such an approach would allow all passengers to use the gigantic iPad and access their apps individually.

Sure enough, this would require a complete reconfiguration of the car's interior. But for Apple, this wouldn’t necessarily be a major challenge, as the company is planning to overhaul the cabin dramatically.

People familiar with the matter said Apple wants to pioneer the living room on wheels concept. In other words, the iPhone maker wants to transform the current cabin into a living room full of screens, comfortable seats, and other technology to remain connected during the entire journey. The living room on wheels concept wouldn’t be possible without self-driving capabilities, as passengers would be allowed to work without having to care about driving.

As futuristic as this approach sounds, making it happen overnight isn't possible, not even for a company the size of Apple. Sources with knowledge of the Apple Car development said the Cupertino-based iPhone maker could originally launch the vehicle with a conventional cabin design. As such, the driver would get a steering wheel, pedals, and everything else already available in passenger cars.

On the other hand, Apple is still aiming for a more innovative transformation of the cabin, as seen in this rendering from Vanarama, and it could happen later this decade. The second-generation Apple Car, possibly coming in 2029 or 2030, could eventually sport full self-driving capabilities. And if everything goes as planned, this gigantic iPad idea could also come to fruition.
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 Download: Movable surfaces support patent (PDF)

About the author: Bogdan Popa
Bogdan Popa profile photo

Bogdan keeps an eye on how technology is taking over the car world. His long-term goals are buying an 18-wheeler because he needs more space for his kid’s toys, and convincing Google and Apple that Android Auto and CarPlay deserve at least as much attention as their phones.
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