Apple Inc., whose CarPlay interface is used by millions of motorists to control music, get directions and make phone calls, is looking to expand its reach within cars.
The company is working on technology that would access functions like the climate-control system, speedometer, radio and seats, according to people with knowledge of the effort. The initiative, known as “IronHeart” internally, is still in its early stages and would require the cooperation of automakers.
The work underscores the idea that cars could be a major moneymaker for the tech giant -- even without selling a vehicle itself. While plans for an Apple car have faced setbacks, including the defection of key executives this year, the company has continued to make inroads with CarPlay. It lets customers link up their iPhones with a vehicle to handle so-called infotainment features. Seven years after its launch, CarPlay is now offered by most major automakers.
IronHeart would take CarPlay a step further. The iPhone-based system could access a range of controls, sensors and settings, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the project is secret.
- Inside and outside temperature and humidity readings
- Temperature zones, fans and the defroster systems
- Settings for adjusting surround-sound speakers, equalizers, tweeters, subwoofers, and the fade and balance
- Seats and armrests
- The speedometer, tachometer and fuel instrument clusters
An Apple spokesman declined to comment on the Cupertino, Calif.-based company’s car plans.
By gaining access to controls and instruments, Apple could turn CarPlay into an interface that could span nearly the entire car. The data also could be used by Apple or third parties to create new kinds of apps or add features to existing functions.
Some Apple users have complained about the need to jump between CarPlay and a car’s built-in system to manage key controls. This initiative would alleviate that friction.