CarPlay in iOS 16 Will Let You Pay for Gas Right from Your Dashboard

Sinclair said it plans to use the new CarPlay technology across its 1,600 stations as soon as possible.
hand tapping Maps icon on CarPlay screen Credit: Hadrian / Shutterstock
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Although it will be at least a year before we see Apple’s stunning CarPlay 2.0 improvements arrive in new vehicles, iOS 16 is still delivering some nice enhancements for existing CarPlay systems.

One subtler but more valuable way that Apple is improving CarPlay is by embracing two essential categories of apps: “Fueling” and “driving task” apps. However, Apple is just opening the door to these apps; it will be up to developers to embrace them.

Fortunately, we may not have to wait too long for this. According to Reuters, at least some fuel companies are already champing at the bit to get a space on your car’s dashboard through CarPlay.

That’s not surprising since it’s another way they can encourage you to spend money at their pumps rather than their competitors’.

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Getting fueling apps onto the dashboard shouldn’t be a massive hurdle for developers. Large companies like Shell already have iPhone apps that can be used to pre-pay and have the pump ready to go before you even get out of your car. All these companies need to do is extend those into the CarPlay interface, much like Google, Spotify, and others did when Apple opened up new CarPlay categories for their apps.

If anything, it’s more of a mystery that it’s taken Apple as long to get to this point. While Apple strictly limits the types of apps that can be used via CarPlay for safety reasons, fueling apps should have been an obvious inclusion from the beginning — especially when Apple added support for EV charging apps two years ago in iOS 14. Those are technically just “fueling” apps for electric vehicles.

Both Parking and Quick Food Ordering apps were also added to the dashboard with iOS 14. While this seems funny on the surface, there’s some logic to Apple’s choice to prioritize these. You’ll likely want to look for parking and order food while driving; filling up your car typically happens when you’re already parked by the pump, so pulling out your iPhone to handle that is less of a problem.

While most fuel companies remain noncommittal about supporting CarPlay in iOS 16, Dallas-based HF Sinclair told Reuters that it plans to use the new CarPlay technology across its 1,600 stations as soon as possible and expects to have some details to share around the time that iOS 16 is released.

We are excited by the idea that consumers could navigate to a Sinclair station and purchase fuel from their vehicle navigation screen. Jack Barger, senior vice president of marketing, HF Sinclair

BP, Shell, and Chevron Corp. didn’t respond to requests for comment from Reuters; however, Donald Frieden, the CEO of the company that provides the infrastructure behind many fuel companies’ app-based payment systems, told Reuters he’s been getting calls from oil companies eager to make their apps work with CarPlay.

It’s a massive marketplace, and consumers really want to take friction out of payments. Donald Frieden, CEO, P97 Networks

Frieden didn’t say which companies he had been in contact with. However, his company, P97 Networks, counts almost all the big players among its clients, including Shell, Chevron, Texaco, Citgo, Sinclair, Irving, Gulf, Petro-Canada, Mapco, 76, ExxonMobil, Phillips 66, Valero, and more.

When iOS 16 lands this fall, CarPlay users will also be able to take advantage of multi-stop trips in Apple Maps and enjoy smoother Siri interactions.

The other new category for “driving task” apps will allow developers of mileage tracking, toll payment, and roadside assistance apps to also get their apps onto your CarPlay dashboard.

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