Apple's foray into in-car technology and the infotainment space comes in the form of CarPlay. CarPlay connects a supported vehicle to a compatible iPhone, enabling access and interaction with Apple's ecosystem directly through a car's dashboard touchscreen.
First premiered in 2014, CarPlay has developed significantly over the last couple of years, while also becoming more accessible with support in over more and more car models across numerous manufacturers.
Simply put, Apple CarPlay provides iPhone users with a streamlined way to connect their device to their car's infotainment system. In turn this provides access to certain smartphone functions such as Apple Music or Spotify, sending and receiving messages, making and receiving calls and navigation through Apple Maps, whilst keeping a focus on driving.
Apple CarPlay: Which cars support it?
Apple CarPlay support is either standard or available as an option on many 2016 cars and later, with some manufacturers offering software updates for earlier models.
There are currently over 200 CarPlay-compatible car models from the following manufacturers: Arbath, Acura, Audi, Bentley, BMW, Buick, Cadillac, Chery, Chevrolet, Chrysler, Citroen, Cowin Auto, Dodge, DS Automobiles, Ferrari, Fiat, Ford, Genesis, GMC, HA/MA, Honda, Hyundai, Jeep, Kia, Lamborghini, The Lincoln Motor Company, Maserati, Mercedes-Benz, MG, Mitsubishi Motors, Nissan, Opel, Peugeot, Porsche, Renault, Roewe, Seat, Skoda, Subaru, Suzuki, Vauxhall, Volkswagen, Volvo.
The full list of compatible models is available on Apple's CarPlay website here. It includes upcoming models that will be available in 2018.
Apple CarPlay: Which iPhones are compatible?
Apple CarPlay works with iPhones running iOS 7 or later that have a Lightning connector.
The following iPhones are therefore compatible:
- Apple iPhone 5,
- iPhone 5C,
- iPhone 5S
- iPhone SE
- iPhone 6
- iPhone 6 Plus
- iPhone 6S
- iPhone 6S Plus
- iPhone 7
- iPhone 7 Plus
Apple CarPlay settings can be accessed on these iPhones via Settings > General > CarPlay.
Apple CarPlay: How does it work?
Vehicles equipped with Apple CarPlay sync with your compatible iPhone via the Lightning Connector plugged into a USB port in the car. Apple introduced wireless support for CarPlay in iOS 9 back in 2015, but so far only the new 2017 BMW 5 Series offers this functionality.
Once connected via Lightning, Apple CarPlay pulls data directly from your iPhone, simultaneously charging it, and allows you to control and interact with specific functions on your iPhone through your vehicle's infotainment system.
Apple CarPlay-enabled vehicles feature a dedicated voice-control button on the steering wheel, which when pressed will launch Apple's voice assistant Siri, allowing you to send a message, make a call or ask for directions.
CarPlay's main appeal-factor shines through the infotainment system and touchscreen interface mounted in your dashboard though. You can use your CarPlay-compatible car's buttons and dials to interact with CarPlay, as well as touch and voice controls.
Apple CarPlay: What can it do?
Siri is the heart and soul of Apple CarPlay, allowing for hands-free and eye-free access to numerous functions on your iPhone.
The iOS voice assistant will help you access your contacts, make calls, return missed calls, listen to voicemails, read incoming messages, allow you to dictate and send a new message, ask for directions and ask for your favourite Ed Sheeran track to be played.
Apple CarPlay will stream music from Apple Music or Spotify, along with podcasts, audiobooks, and iTunes Radio from your iPhone through your car's stereo system.
You can browse tracks manually through the dedicated CarPlay Apple Music and Spotify apps using touch, built-in controls or via Siri with a related voice command.
CarPlay taps into Apple's mapping service, so you can see destinations based on recent trips, addresses pulled from contacts, as well as view traffic conditions and estimated time of arrival.
You'll also get turn-by-turn directions, which will appear on your car's dashboard screen, as well as on the driver dash on some models. Siri can be used to plan routes and get directions via voice commands, and it will talk back to you and provide audible turn-by-turn directions.
Apple CarPlay will allow you to make calls, return missed calls and listen to voicemails. You can ask Siri to help you do any of this or you can tap on the phone icon in the main CarPlay menu and search your contacts.
With Apple CarPlay, Siri will read, reply and send messages for you so there is no need to look at your phone. It is also able to play audio messages through the car's speakers.
Apple CarPlay: What apps are supported?
Apple CarPlay supports Phone, Messages, Apple Music, Podcasts and Audiobooks in terms of Apple apps, but it also offers some third party app integration.
Currently, the other apps supported are: At Bat, Spotify, Stitcher, Overcast, Audiobooks.com, Audible, VOX, NPR One, Clammr and Downcast.
Apple CarPlay: What new features are coming?
Apple's next software build, iOS 11, will be available from Autumn, though it is already available to download as a public beta. A couple of new features for CarPlay will be coming with the new software.
The first of these features will be a Do Not Disturb mode. Your iPhone will know when you are driving and you will be prevented from call, text and notification distractions until you stop.
The feature can be turned off, but when on, those who try to contact you will be automatically notified that you are driving.
The second of the two features is Lane Guidance within Apple Maps. To make sure you don't miss a turn or exit, Apple Maps will show you which lane you should be in and it will also tell you the speed limit of the road you are on.