With Apple having announced CarPlay in 2015 we’ve seen it expand to a point that it comes as a standard feature from almost every major automotive manufacturer across over 100 different models. Apple’s ingenious connected-car application is designed to enable iPhone features on your car’s infotainment system allowing the use of automotive specific iPhone apps via existing touchscreen or button controls.
Now you can have access to iPhone features without the added distraction of actually using your iPhone. While the list of cars coming standard with CarPlay connectivity is steadily increasing, a host of aftermarket companies also offer CarPlay in their head units for those with older model cars looking to upgrade and join the CarPlay connected crowd.
How to Connect Your iPhone to Apple CarPlay
To use the application in a CarPlay enabled vehicle, you simply connect your iPhone via a Lightning cable to the vehicle’s infotainment system’s USB port. Wireless Apple CarPlay is also now available. Once connected, your iPhone screen will be locked to prevent use while driving and the CarPlay app will automatically open. The interface of CarPlay mimics that of your home screen for added familiarity while user controls will depend on each specific vehicle. Some manufacturers prefer physical buttons rather than touchscreen and CarPlay adapts seamlessly to either method.
It is important to note that CarPlay does not replace your factory entertainment system, it is simply an app that runs on top of your current system, either OEM or aftermarket. You will still be able to exit out of the app to access features such as your factory radio, satellite radio, CD, etc. Once connected to CarPlay, you’ll find your apps such as Phone, Contacts, Messages, Music, Maps in a default set up on the Home screen in addition to all CarPlay compatible apps that are installed on your phone.
Navigation through your apps in CarPlay is the same as on your phone utilizing taps and swipes though you will not be able to pinch and zoom within CarPlay. With the upcoming iOS 10 update CarPlay users can now hide and rearrange apps on the Home screen, a feature that many have requested and has long been overdue.
How Apple CarPlay Works
When connected to CarPlay you’ll be able to use your phone to call, text, use the turn-by-turn navigation in the Maps app and listen to music with a variety of apps. CarPlay however will not control car functions such as temperature and emergency controls. The main method of interaction with CarPlay is Siri, which allows hands-free control, but you also have the option to use the onscreen icons as well.
Most people are guilty of texting and driving, but with CarPlay it makes it much easier, not to mention a lot safer. When receiving text messages they will not be displayed on your car’s screen but instead Siri will prompt you if you want the message read out loud. The improved dictation of Siri also allows for an improved experience with sending or replying to text messages.
With Apple’s recent announcement of allowing iOS developers to access Siri, you can look forward to Siri support in messaging apps such as WhatsApp or WeChat in the future. Making a phone call is also preferably Siri driven in that a dial pad is not immediately present when the app opens but instead prompted by voice to say the name of those you want to call. You will still have access to your Favorites, Recents, Contacts, Dial Pad and Voicemail through a tap in the menu.
For those who chose to skip out on a factory based navigation unit, CarPlay will integrate the Apple Maps app onto your infotainment system allowing improved turn-by-turn navigation when in cellular coverage. A major benefit over any factory navigation is the hands free ability to ask Siri to search for nearby gas stations, restaurants, and local landmarks. Siri will also search for addresses from your emails, text messages, contacts and calendars. Many users find that the search results that are found through Apple Maps were significantly better than results found on out dated factory navigation units. Third party navigation apps such as Waze or Google Maps are currently not supported on CarPlay.
There’s an App for That
While the majority of apps you will find that currently works with CarPlay are music apps such as Apple Music, Pandora, Spotify, and IHeartRadio, you will find that certain sports apps such as MLB.com are also supported on CarPlay as well. A wide variety of Podcasts, News Radio apps, and Audio book apps do support CarPlay and many more are on the way. Manufacturers are also developing apps for CarPlay that will allow you to control more of your car’s features within CarPlay. For a full list of CarPlay compatible apps, simply search ‘CarPlay’ in the App Store.