Apple plans to use iPhone to control autos’ A/C, seats and radio, report says

For some time, Apple also allowed its Siri voice assistant to tap in to certain car features, letting it change audio sources and radio stations, move seats, and operate climate settings. But those features, which relied on app support from carmakers, were removed in iOS 15, the latest version of the iPhone operating system, according to a message sent to developers in July. Apple could ultimately delay or even cancel the IronHeart features if they don’t show enough promise. 

Some manufacturers, including Tesla Inc., have disregarded the car efforts of Apple and Google altogether, choosing to build their own next-generation infotainment ecosystems. Ford Motor Co. is looking to get more ambitious as well. It recently hired Doug Field, the former chief engineer of Tesla and the head of Apple’s own car project, to work on its in-car technology. 

Still, carmakers risk irking iPhone fans by focusing on their own incompatible systems. And that may ultimately sway more of them to embrace Apple’s technology. They also may choose to implement the features in different ways depending on the car. In some vehicles, Apple could gain control over climate controls, while others may only offer access to speakers. 

For Apple, the project could provide insights helpful to its efforts to build a self-driving car. However, the company wouldn’t collect a user’s or car’s data as part of the initiative.  

After the departure of Field, the company appointed Apple Watch and Health software chief Kevin Lynch as its car project head. An actual car is probably years away — if it ever happens — but Apple has several ex-Tesla vice presidents and former BMW electric car executive Ulrich Kranz working on the project. 

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