If Apple really is working on a car, what would it look like? And what would we want it to look like and do?
The growing chorus of rumors about Apple’s possible automotive ambitions — and the hard facts about the car designers it’s already recruited — don’t prove Cupertino is working on a car. But if Apple is staffing up to transform the transportation industry, what features might it deliver in its human-transport device?
Here’s what we’d like to see in the very first iCar.
Head-turning design: This goes without saying. Apple is known for its sleek designs, and the first Apple car should be instantly recognizable — and endlessly covetable. More than almost any industry aside from fashion, the automobile biz lives and dies on the way its products look. A head-turning car can be a fetish item of the first order — just ask noted car freak Jony Ive. If Apple’s rumored “Project Titan” is really all about reimagining the minivan, as reported by The Wall Street Journal, we definitely want one that doesn’t look like a mom mobile. Tesla Motors’ aesthetic would be a good place to start. Or the Fisker Karma (RIP alas).
Battery life like the iPhone 6 Plus: Everybody likes the idea of an electric car, but nobody wants to run out of juice in the middle of the countryside. Tesla’s Model S, with the largest battery available, gets less than 300 miles per charge; that’s simply not enough to relieve our anxiety about ending up stranded on the side of the road. We want an electric car with a battery that lasts at least as long as an iPhone 6 Plus, so we can spend a solid day driving without any worries.
Solar panels that charge the car while it’s on the road: Apple recently doubled down on its commitment to solar energy for its California campus and retail stores, with Tim Cook saying, “We know at Apple that climate change is real. Our view is that the time for talk is past and the time for action is now.” If Cupertino is truly committed to renewable energy, a plug-in electric car isn’t enough — that energy will most likely come from a coal-fired plant. We’ll settle for nothing less than beautiful solar panels built into the Apple car’s body so it can charge while it rolls down the road.
Electronically tinted windows: We want windows that will block out the blinding sun or shut out pedestrians’ prying eyes. This type of technology already exists, but we’ll need Apple to perfect it so the perfect mix of visual elegance and supreme privacy is available at the touch of a screen or the utterance of a voice command. Speaking of …
Voice controls powered by Siri: We expect voice-activated everything in our Apple car. Some of this is already available with CarPlay, Apple’s platform for bringing iOS to the car. But Siri’s going to need to seriously step up her game to be truly useful when we’re on the road. Imagine if the Apple AI could handle complicated requests like, “Siri, turn down the AC to 69 degrees, tint the front windshield and find me the nearest coffee shop that sells iced coffee.”
Self-driving modes: We don’t want to cede all our driving privileges to a robotic overlord, but smart self-driving modes seem almost mandatory if Apple is going to push the needle. Self-guiding cars already take the pain out of parallel parking, and the DARPA Grand Challenge has been sending autonomous vehicles into the wild for over a decade. With companies like Google and Tesla pursuing self-driving cars, and Apple rumored to be doing the same, we’re excited about the possibility of napping on solo trips to Los Angeles.
Awesome phone audio: One of the few knocks on the original iPhone was its relatively poor audio quality. Apple’s made great strides in that department over the years. Now let’s see if Tim Cook’s army of engineers can fix one of the most annoying parts of using a hands-free phone: garbled audio that’s barely conversation-ready.
Apple Watch is your key — and much more: Unlocking your car with your Apple Watch is a no-brainer. But what about starting it remotely? Or even summoning it with a simple voice command spoken into your wrist? Imagine it: “Siri, pull up to my current location.” No more struggling to remember where you parked your car or slogging through the rain to retrieve it.
Touch ID to unlock and start your car: Let’s say you forgot your Apple Watch. You’ve always got your fingerprint, and Touch ID should be able to let you into your car — and fire up the engine.
Lightning and USB ports for every seat: Everybody needs their own chargers for all their devices, Apple or otherwise. ‘Nuff said.
Biometrics that track your alertness: Any Apple car should work seamlessly with the Apple Watch and iPhone, constantly monitoring the driver’s alertness to ensure everybody’s safety. Feeling tired or, god forbid, slightly buzzed? Your car can intervene, either shifting into self-driving mode or shutting down automatically.