Apple's futuristic next-gen CarPlay isn't coming to this German luxury carmaker's vehicles, but at least it isn't taking the old version away

Apple CarPlay on Mercedes Benz
(Image credit: Mercedes-Benz)

When Apple announced its next-generation CarPlay feature back at WWDC  in June of 2022 it made quite the splash. It promised to be the biggest change to CarPlay since its launch, adding support for multiple displays including the cluster behind the steering wheel. Now, almost two years later, iPhone owners still can't buy a vehicle with next-gen CarPlay support, and we can add one name to the list of those who have no plan to change that.

German luxury carmaker Mercedes-Benz wasn't the quickest to add CarPlay originally, and now it has confirmed that it has no intention of adding the upgraded version, either. However, there's a sliver of good news that potential buyers of the company's future vehicles can cling to.

Thankfully, Mercedes-Benz has confirmed that while the new CarPlay won't arrive any time soon, if ever, the old version isn't going anywhere. Unlike some carmakers, CarPlay support will remain. And that's huge for future buyers.

Playing at CarPlay

This is according to Mercedes-Benz CEO Ola Källenius who was speaking in an interview with The Verge's Decoder, so we can assume that he knows what he's talking about.

“The short answer is no,” Källenius told The Verge's Nilay Patel when asked whether the company would offer Apple's upgraded CarPlay functionality. Instead, Mercedes-Benz intends to take a "holistic software architecture" approach to things, powered by Google. That means that anyone who had hoped to buy a modern Mercedes-Benz vehicle and have CarPlay run on its various huge on-car displays is going to be out of luck.

The upgraded CarPlay support would allow drivers to interact with their vehicles in a whole new way. Beyond the current apps, CarPlay will be able to interact with a vehicle's air conditioning system, tap into mileage and battery charge state, and more. Some carmakers aren't keen on handing that kind of control to Apple, although it should be noted that Mercedez-Benz is partnering with Google of all companies when creating its own future in-car software.

"We work with the best," Källenius said. "Yes, we’re integrating Google Maps. In fact, we are developing with Google the next generation of what a map in a car married to the driving-assistant system should look like."

However, Google won't have complete control and Mercedes-Benz software engineers will be heavily involved, the CEO notes. "I fundamentally believe that holistic customer experience is best done by us, and we will serve you," he explained "Then, there are, of course, other aspects to that. If you get a Mercedes product, I assume you have a Mercedes me ID, you have the app, you have everything. You can take that ID with you to several cars."

Thankfully, that doesn't mean that CarPlay is going away.

"There are so many reasons why we’re doing what we’re doing, but we’re not fundamentalists to say, for some reason, we’re not going to allow a customer to use Apple CarPlay if that’s what they choose to do," the CEO explained. "We have Apple CarPlay. We have Android Auto. If, for some of the functions, you feel more comfortable with that and will switch back and forth, be my guest. You can get that, too. But to give up the whole cockpit head unit — in our case, a passenger screen and everything to somebody else — the answer is no."

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Oliver Haslam

Oliver Haslam has written about Apple and the wider technology business for more than a decade with bylines on How-To Geek, PC Mag, iDownloadBlog, and many more. He has also been published in print for Macworld, including cover stories. At iMore, Oliver is involved in daily news coverage and, not being short of opinions, has been known to 'explain' those thoughts in more detail, too. Having grown up using PCs and spending far too much money on graphics card and flashy RAM, Oliver switched to the Mac with a G5 iMac and hasn't looked back. Since then he's seen the growth of the smartphone world, backed by iPhone, and new product categories come and go. Current expertise includes iOS, macOS, streaming services, and pretty much anything that has a battery or plugs into a wall. Oliver also covers mobile gaming for iMore, with Apple Arcade a particular focus. He's been gaming since the Atari 2600 days and still struggles to comprehend the fact he can play console quality titles on his pocket computer.