In-Car Tech

Here's what today's Apple Event means for your car

Today Apple unveiled its latest lineup of new products.

Photo courtesy of Apple

Today's Apple Event hits home on many levels for consumers. Literally. The tech giant is aiming to make everyday life easier and more connected for their customers. Connectivity is extending past the iPhone and iMac, and into your home, your car, and your ears.

Earlier this year, Apple announced a host of changes that would effect Apple Maps, Apple CarPlay, and other components. You can read about iOS 14 updates here, Apple Maps upgrades here, and phone-as-key technology here.

How does today's news effect your car? Let's take a closer look at the products Apple debuted and what we know about them.

Apple HomePod Mini

Apple HomePod Mini

Photo courtesy of Apple

In addition to a slew of features that includes acting as synched surround sound speakers and the ability to handoff entertainment from a variety of apps like iHeartRadio, Pandora, and Amazon, Apple HomePods will be able to send suggestions to Apple CarPlay.

The real-life application of the technology may look a little something like this.

Scenario: You call your spouse and ask them if they need anything while you're out. The spouse asks you to swing by the house of a friend of you child's and pick up the Girl Scout cookies you both forgot you ordered. There's only one problem. You don't know where the kid lives.

Apple's Solution: At home, your spouse has their phone and contacts list connected to the HomePod. Said spouse then asks the HomePod to send the address to Apple CarPlay in the family's BMW 5 Series that you're driving. While in the car, using Siri, you tell Apple CarPlay to navigate you to that address.

There's also an intercom function. This means that you can broadcast from one HomePod to a series of others and Apple CarPlay. Think of this as a modern household intercom system that connects all the elements of your household. Think of how much easier it just got to survey your family to see what they want on their pizza.

Perhaps most importantly, Apple will allow customers to opt-out of allowing Apple to store their recordings.

Wireless iPhone charging

Apple iPhone 12

Photo courtesy of Apple

Apple is making wireless charging its primary method of charging for iPhone 12. The company is already working with Belkin on a new accessories line that includes car mounts and multi-charger docks.

In response to real world user experience, and with an eye toward sustainability, Apple has announced that it will no longer include Lightning headphones or power adapters in iPhone boxes. It's the end of an era, really. This is projected to save 2 million metric tons of carbon emissions annually, the equivalent of removing 450,000 cars from the road each year.

What will the iPhone box include. There will now be a USB-C to Lightning cable. That means that if your car only has USB-A (commonly referred to as USB) ports, you'll need to invest in an adapter if you want to plug in your phone to the car. Wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, along with wireless charging, are becoming more popular as a new car offering so if you purchase a new car, you may not have to worry about this issue.

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Electric vehicles

NHTSA looking into Tesla's in-car video games

Some owners have discovered that their car's video games work when the car is moving.

Tesla

Tesla's vehicles are among the most advanced and forward-thinking products of any kind, but serious innovation doesn't come with tradeoffs. The automaker has been in the news recently because of issues with how its advanced cruise control systems function, and now, Autoblog reports that the NHTSA is asking questions about Tesla giving drivers the ability to play video games and browse the internet while driving.

Tesla Arcade hands-on: the Model 3 is your video game console youtu.be

The feature is intended to be used while the car is parked, such as while charging, so the discovery that people can use them while driving is a serious one. Vince Patton, the person who filed the complaint with the NHTSA, tested his car and found that he could play Solitaire and a fairly involved action game while it was in motion. Internet browsing was also possible, meaning the driver could take their attention completely off the road ahead for extended periods of time.

Tesla Model 3 Tesla's screens offer advanced functions that many others do not. Tesla

Tesla was already under investigation over crashes involving its Autopilot feature. Several collisions have occurred between Teslas and emergency vehicles stopped on the side of the road. Following the initiation of that investigation, the NHTSA raised other questions with the automaker over a buggy software update that was pushed out, retracted, fixed, and reissued outside of the normal recall process. Despite their names, it's important to clarify that neither the Autopilot nor Full Self-Driving features are capable of driving the cars without driver awareness and input.

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New electric pickup truck

Ford F-150 Lightning will charge other EVs

The F-150 Lightning and F-150 PowerBoost Hybrid offer charging abilities for other EVs.

Ford

This year is the year of the electric truck, as there have been several new models announced and two released. The Ford F-150 Lightning won’t be here until next year, but today, Ford outlined the truck’s impressive electric power capabilities. Even the F-150 PowerBoost Hybrid truck has plenty to like and offers many of the same benefits.

Ford Electric Trucks Both trucks feature an onboard generator.Ford

The F-150 PowerBoost Hybrid and F-150 Lightning offer charging capabilities that can help another EV owner out in a pinch. Ford says the vehicles can add up to 20 miles of range per hour to the Mustang Mach-E with RWD and up to 13 miles of charging hour for the F-150 Lightning. The trucks deliver Level 2 charging speeds, and the PowerBoost Hybrid’s available 7.2-kilowatt Pro Power Onboard generator can power tools and other equipment, while the F-150 Lightning will debut with an available 9.6 kilowatt generator.

The F-150 PowerBoost Hybrid saw action as a generator during last year’s major winter storms in Texas and elsewhere. As owners’ homes lost power, their trucks were able to step in and handle power duties for small appliances and even home heating systems. The move to include the capability in the upcoming F-150 Lightning is a smart one, as many automakers include some degree of power output for their EVs, but a truck’s life is filled with times when a power source is a big bonus.

Ford Electric Trucks Level 2 charging speeds are possible.Ford

These are neat features, to be sure, but they’re not just a novelty. Ford notes that the F-150 Lightning can power an average home for up to thre days in the event of a major power outlet. Without the need to carry a large engine under its hood, the truck also features a massive front trunk, or frunk, that offers multiple power outlets on top of a lockable 14 cubic-foot storage space.

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