Some may say that Apple’s 2021 World Wide Developers Conference was underwhelming. But that’s expected after the big Silicon chip announcement in 2020. This year’s WWDC focused on building on that same platform and the operating software for iOS, iPadOS, MacOS, HomeOS and WatchOS. Some interesting features to come out of the update are predominantly for iPhone users with iOS 15. But it is only a minor impact for drivers with iPhones looking for new updates to Apple CarPlay with iOS 15.
Last year, Apple gave us quite a few updates with CarPlay with iOS 14. It finally allowed users to customise the background and move away from the age-old black background. iOS 14 also allowed Electric Vehicle Routing helping EV users to plan convenient routes with EV chargers through Apple Maps and the Digital Key in Wallet for cars. BMW is the first automaker to get on board with Digital Key, and we wait for more to join in on the same.
The Digital Key will now be extended to allow iPhone users with iOS 15 to unlock homes as well. Hardware developers will be allowed access to the Digital Key platform as well as Siri to integrate that into digitised home security systems.
But coming back to cars, the impact iOS 15 makes on Apple CarPlay is barely an impact in itself. The only change that Apple has announced is the upgrade to Apple Maps. It will include 3D maps and allow users to 3D scan locations for accuracy and directions. It even takes into account elevation, road markings, intricately detailed road maps, different driving lanes and characteristics, medians and zebra crossings (crosswalks). The 3D mapping also allows it to create overlapping complex interchanges and also helps divers stay on the correct lane while driving.
However, the new Apple Maps is currently only optimised for a few regions. Till now it only included the United States, Canada, United Kingdom and Ireland. Apple says it has extended the coverage to Spain and Portugal, and it will be rolled out to Italy and Australia later this year. The 3D Maps feature will for now be rolled out in seven cities — London, Los Angeles, New York, Philadelphia San Diego, San Francisco Bay Area and Washington DC this year, with more cities being included in 2022.
So, iPhone customers in India looking to use Apple Maps and its features may need to hold off for the moment. Google Maps is the best bet for India at the moment. Other than the update to Apple Maps, there has been no new change to Apple CarPlay as we know it.
However, Apple has introduced a new feature called “Focus” for iOS that also works cohesively with other MacOS and iPadOS devices. It will allow users to tailor the kind of notifications they wish to receive depending on their daily activity at the time and filter out the less important notifications to the ones that are urgent. Even though iOS already has a “Do not Disturb While Driving” which limits notifications and access to certain functions on the phone, we will have to wait till iOS 15 is officially released to the public to see if it offers anything that could be useful for drivers with iPhones.
Additionally, Facetime now integrates a new feature called Mic modes which help cut out frequencies and boost voice audio quality during Facetime calls. Whether this will be a feature that works with CarPlay on FaceTime audio calls, cutting out road and background noise from Indian streets is something we will need to test out once we get out hands on the final version of iOS 15.
Currently, iOS15 Beta 1 has been released for developers while public Beta will be rolled out in July. However, the final user version of iOS 15 can be expected later this year around September-October which is when the new iPhone 13 is expected.
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