Apple patent involves iPhone/CarPlay interaction

Apple has been granted a patent (number 20170180547) for “generating a dynamic user interface representing an arbitrary content provider back-end.” It involves the interaction between iPhones and iPads and the company’s CarPlay technology.

Compatible with iPhone 5 and later models, CarPlay provides a simplified way to use your iPhone interface on a car’s touch screen, giving users access to Siri voice controls, as well as Apple Maps, Apple Music, Phone, Messages, and a variety of third party apps.

The invention would allow hird-party apps on an iPhone or iPad to show their content — such as audio content, video content, music stations, audio books, and so forth — to an in-vehicle CarPly computing device via a standardized format for content items that’s decoupled from the user interfaces of the third-party apps. 

In this way, the in-vehicle device can display the content items in an in-vehicle user interface without granting providers of the content items access to the in-vehicle user interface. 

This system can present the content items in a different, independent user interface, even though the content items are associated with a third-party app having its own user interface. Content items encapsulate metadata describing the media, such as a title, subtitle, artwork, playback progress, a content item type, whether the content item is playable, whether the content item is a container item, and so forth.

In the patent filing, Apple says that, with the proliferation of personal computing devices and the advancement of their capabilities, many users expect similar functionality in different environments, such as an electronic car control system. The company says that many of these systems are difficult to navigate or extremely limited in their capabilities. Existing approaches to car interfaces fail to expose content in an appealing or safe way, or fail to expose or provide adequate access to resources users desire. What’s more, users desire access to many different types and sources of content, which are often stored in multiple different file types, formats, or are accessible via different application programming interfaces (APIs). 

For example, a user of an iPhone may wish to access different types of content available through the smartphone, but while driving. The user interface of the phone, as well as the user interface of the various mobile apps on the phone which provide access to the different content vary widely. 

Different sources and types of content items can also vary widely. The array of different types of content sources and user interfaces are all distractions from operating a vehicle, but can also be confusing to many users even outside of the scenario of driving. Apple wants to change this.

Of course, Apple files for — and is granted — lots of patents by the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office. Many are for inventions that never see the light of day. However, you never can tell which ones will materialize in a real product.