Apple CarPlay will soon control your car. Will Apple TractorPlay be next?
I recently replaced the CD player on my 1999 Toyota Land Cruiser with a modern Apple CarPlay equipped stereo. My old SUV now displays the latest iPhone apps when I drive on the stereo’s LCD screen. CarPlay works great.
If you have driven a car with Apple CarPlay, you know that it drastically simplifies integrating your phone into your driving experience. No more searching for a way to sync your iPhone’s contacts, music, or maps with your vehicle. Just plug in your phone (or connect wirelessly) and your phone’s apps appear on your vehicle’s infotainment screen. (Google’s Android auto works the same way).
The current CarPlay system, however, is just the tip of the iceberg.
On June 7, 2022, Apple unveiled the next generation of CarPlay (pictured above). The next-gen system will take over and replace participating new vehicles’ entire information display, not just the stereo. CarPlay will essentially become the operating system for your vehicle. This also means that CarPlay will not just feed you information from your phone, but will be a tool that can control nearly all functions of your car.
I predict that Apple App Store for CarPlay will really explode as developers make new apps to do things with our cars we cannot imagine today. For example, GM could offer its “Super Cruise” autonomous driving feature as an app that will drive your car. Download the Super Cruise app on your Ford and use the software to control your vehicle.
Restaurants, coffee shops, and other roadside venues will create apps that will change your driving experience. Subway, for example, could let you use the in-car app to order that $5 footlong while driving. Concert and sport venues could create apps that guide your car to the available parking spots. The possibilities are endless for app developers.
What does this mean for communication screens in farm equipment?
This time of year, farmers love to post pictures of their tractor cabs filled with monitors during planting season. It is not uncommon to see one monitor for the tractor, one for the planter, and one for the planting data. The farmer is able to receive a lot of information, but the user experience appears chaotic when compared to something like the next generation of CarPlay.
Is it inevitable that a major software developer or agricultural OEM will create a CarPlay-like experience for the tractor cab? A similar “TractorPlay” operating system could revolutionize the farmer’s in-cab experience too. For example, rather than plug in your unique planter monitor, you could simply download the planter app to your TractorPlay operating system and run the tool as an embedded software program.
A single, integrated operating system could change the entire in-cab experience. A combine monitor might run apps for a grain trucking company that makes sure empty trucks are always waiting at the end of the field. Another app might connect to the local grain elevator to constantly update storage numbers and market prices in front of the operator. With CarPlay in the cab, the possibilities are endless.
What do you think? Is the next generation of CarPlay a model that we will see move into the tractor or combine cab?
About the author: Todd Janzen is an attorney who is a frequent author and speaker on legal issues affecting agriculture. He writes a regular blog column on law and technology issues facing agriculture, which can be found at Janzen Ag Law Blog.