iOS 7 Beta Spills Apple iCar Connectivity Details

New details about how Apple plans to connect the iPhone running iOS 7 to the car, the first step in an iCar, emerged as part of the iOS 7 beta 3 this week, and a new patent points to Apple’s plans to provide guidance to car manufacturers when it comes to the user experience.

A new look inside the iOS 7 beta 3 reveals that Apple may use WiFi to connect the iPhone to the car infotainment system which could explain why some manufacturers weren’t ready to commit to shipping in 2014.

A recently discovered patent isn’t new, but it shows that Apple’s iCar ambitions trace back to as early as 2009, when the company applied for a smarter touch screen infotainment system with tactile controls.

Apple's iCar push begins with iOS in the Car, a feature that will apparently use AirPlay to put iPhone info on the in-dash screen of many car models.

Apple’s iCar push begins with iOS in the Car, a feature that will apparently use AirPlay to put iPhone info on the in-dash screen of many car models.

The closest we’ll come to an iCar in the near future is the iOS in the Car option that puts Apple specific apps on the display of select cars, but this could be the start of something bigger.

Hamza Snood uncovered a set of iOS 7 in the Car options which appears to show that the new option will allow users to mirror iPhone apps to a car infotainment system using AirPlay which functions over WiFi. Many new cars ship with WiFi connectivity including the 2013 For Fusion we recently reviewed and in 2014 most GM vehicles will ship with a WiFi hotspot functionality.

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A new discovery shows WiFi connectivity for iOS in the Car.

A new discovery shows WiFi connectivity for iOS in the Car.

The settings, shown in the image above show that the iOS in the Car options can work over WiFi or over USB, which would mirror the USB or Bluetooth connectivity options many cars currently offer. A WiFi option is important to complete the seamless entry and exit of the car, allowing users to use iOS in the car functionality without removing their phone from a pocket.

Read: Ford Seeking “Seamless” iOS 7 In the Car Connectivity

It’s still early for iOS in the Car, so we don’t know exactly how this will work until Apple officially launches the feature and car manufacturers deliver a the 2014 cars. It’s also not clear if car manufacturers will be able to add this functionality to existing systems, or if it will only come on new cars.

AppleInsider shares a patent for a in-car infotainment screen that uses tactile feedback to let drivers control car functions on a screen without removing their eyes from the road. The patent is from 2009, but illustrates how long Apple has been working on in-car connectivity and controls.

The most interesting part of this patent is for on-screen controls that feature raised ridges or indents to let drivers feel the button they want to press. This sounds like a great application for Tactus’ morphing keyboard which can push a physical keyboard out of a touch screen.

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Look forward to more IOS 7 in the car details later this year and check out Gotta Be Mobile’s Auto coverage for more on in-car technology and car reviews.

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