Apple is looking at ways to use an iPhone to control vehicle functions, Bloomberg reported Thursday.
The tech giant wants its phones to access functions like the climate control, radio, speedometer, and seat controls, according to the report, which cited anonymous sources familiar with the matter. Known internally as "Ironheart," the project is still in its early stages, and would require coordination with automakers, the report noted.
Such an interface would give Apple an even greater reach into cars than the current CarPlay system, which only projects smartphone functions onto a car's infotainment system. A 2020 update allowed an iPhone to function as a key fob, but automakers have been slow to adopt that function.
The change would give Apple more opportunities to harvest user data, but would also address current user complaints about having switch between Apple CarPlay and the native infotainment system to access different functions, Bloomberg noted.
Apple has filed many car-related patent applications, and reports of an Apple car have become a perennial part of the news cycle. Earlier this year, it appeared Apple was ready to negotiate with Hyundai for contract manufacturing, but those talks broke off. Apple then hired BMW veteran and Canoo co-founder Ulrich Kranz, while a September report indicated the company was willing to go it alone on the car project, potentially including manufacturing.
Even if the Apple car never comes to fruition, it wouldn't be surprising for the company to seek a greater presence on car dashboards. Rival Google has designed an entire Android-based operating system for car infotainment systems, which is now being used in certain models from Volvo and sibling brand Polestar.