The Apple CarPlay UI
Android Auto for phones was until recently one of the greatest ways to experience the power of Android in a car.

With Android Auto for Phones Already Retired, Apple Should Now Build CarPlay for Phones

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Designed as a way to get a driving-optimized UI in a vehicle not equipped with an Android Auto-compatible head unit, Android Auto for phones pretty much turned the mobile device into the head unit itself. Users were therefore provided with a similar Android Auto experience, with one-tap access to essential apps like music players, navigation software, phone calls, and messages.

Last year, however, Google decided to kill off Android Auto for phones and go all-in on the driving mode powered by Google Assistant and built around Google Maps.

While the driving mode is in many ways similar to Android Auto for phones, it still lacks certain essential features, such as support for other navigation apps besides Google Maps. Not to mention that the driving mode isn’t working exactly as users expect it to work, so it’s not a surprise that many are still calling for Google to bring back the original Android Auto for phones.

It goes without saying this isn’t going to happen, but on the other hand, what should actually happen is the launch of CarPlay for phones.

Android Auto for phones
At this point, Apple offers no way to access the magic of CarPlay in a car without a compatible head unit, so drivers just have to stick with the raw mobile experience when getting behind the wheel. This isn’t necessarily a major drawback, as apps like Google Maps, Waze, and Spotify still feel at home on the iPhone, but on the other hand, there’s no driving-optimizing interface on Apple’s device.

While for many people Apple launching a CarPlay mode that transforms the iPhone itself into a head unit may sound ridiculous, the Cupertino-based tech giant has actually explored such capabilities.

A recent patent, for example, describes new technology that would allow an iPhone to adapt its user interface to various uses, all with or without special accessories to power the whole thing. For example, Apple sees the whole thing being based on a series of cases and docks that support near-field wireless communication systems.

In other words, once the iPhone is connected to such an accessory, it can automatically switch to a new custom UI accordingly.

When it comes to vehicles, Apple seems to suggest that a car dock could power a driving-optimized UI that would place the iPhone at the core of the experience. While the company hasn’t detailed this concept too much, it looks like when connected to the dock, the iPhone would switch to a CarPlay-based UI that would allow users to run navigation apps, music players, and so on in a special mode that makes sense behind the wheel.

In other words, the car dock would more or less give birth to something similar to Android Auto for phones, only that the iPhone will be the one making it happen, and the UI and apps would be based on CarPlay.

The patent application filed by Apple
Of course, given it’s all just a patent, nobody should hold their breath waiting for such a system to go live.

In the meantime, it’s believed that Apple is exploring many other ideas on the CarPlay front, including a more evolved version that would be offered at the vehicle level, similarly to Android Automotive. Apple would therefore try to provide deeper integration of its services, pretty much like Google already does, possibly without the need for an iPhone at all.

Everything seems to align nicely when taking into account the upcoming Apple Car, as the iPhone maker appears to be developing all these ideas in order to create the ultimate self-driving vehicle based entirely on new-generation technology and innovations.

If anything, the Apple Car isn’t expected to see the daylight earlier than 2025, obviously if the project eventually comes to be in the first place.


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