Using your iPhone while driving is a huge no-no unless you want to die in a fiery crash of metal and flesh. Rather than putting all of its hopes behind Siri though, Apple has dreams of replacing all of your dashboard controls with a touchscreen interface.
According the the U.S. patent filing No. 8,482,535, Apple has developed a concept that would replace the analog controls of car dashboard with tactile and touch screen controls so you can keep your eyes on the road while adjusting temperature or changing the radio station.
Here’s how Apple described its dashboard to the USPTO:
FIG. 1C Illustrates one example of a conceptual vehicle basic dash board (1) and center stack (5) with tactile displays and/or touch screens made possible by this invention, incorporated in the steering wheel center, the center stack, the console, the passenger side of the dash board, and possible the instrument cluster itself, not here illustrated.
The patent, titled “Programmable tactile touch screen displays and man-machine interfaces for improved vehicle instrumentation and telematics,” is actually a continuation of a patent filed in 2011. The dash board controls described in Apple’s patent can actually replace most of a cars existing instrumentation because the system can be custom programmed and incorporates adjustable embedded controls that can attach to the screen to give drivers more tactile feedback.
iOS 7 beta 3 has a secret “iOS in the Car” setting which will likely allow iOS devices to integrate with car displays via AirPlay. While Apple files many patents that never turn into full fledge products, Apple executives have said many times that Apple has explored many more automotive products and even an iCar at one point.