How does CarPlay work? Is Apple CarPlay worth it?

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How does CarPlay work? Knowing how Apple CarPlay works is a common doubt if you are looking for a way to connect your iPhone to your car’s infotainment system.

Apple users may get frustrated because they don’t always have the same connectivity options as those who use Android. Throughout this article, we will also look into the best CarPlay features and tips on using Apple CarPlay. But before jumping the gun, what does Apple CarPlay do?

What does CarPlay mean?

Apple CarPlay is a system that allows you to connect your iPhone to the infotainment system in your car. Many of your favorite apps are mirrored onto your dashboard screen so that you can use them safely while you are driving.

The main idea is that you no longer need to take your hands off your steering wheel to use your phone’s essential features.

When was CarPlay introduced?

Apple loves being the leader in innovative ideas and CarPlay is no different. The original concept was a collaboration between Apple and the BMW Group’s Technology Office in the U.S.

It was known as iPod Out and it allowed drivers to see and hear analog video and audio from certain iOS devices. This iPod Out led the way for what we see today as a car-specific interface for apps.

In 2013, “iOS in the Car” was released and the following year saw CarPlay introduced at the Geneva Motor Show. At the date of this article, the latest version of CarPlay, released in September 2019, is iOS 13.1.

What does Apple CarPlay do?

What can Apple CarPlay do? Essentially, what Apple CarPlay does is taking your iPhone’s interface and apps and sending them to the infotainment system screen in your car.

For example, your WhatsApp icon will appear on your dashboard and you can access your messages through the touchscreen. You will be able to navigate, play music, have your messages read to you and reply, check your calendar and catch up on the news and weather without touching your phone.

CarPlay focuses on safety and convenience. Your apps will appear as large icons and there are multiple ways that you can control them, for example, with your steering wheel controls, the dashboard dials and buttons, and with your voice.

Apple CarPlay requirements

There is a very good variety of cars and iPhones that feature CarPlay compatibility. Let’s take a look at them before we learn how to set it up.

Vehicles compatible with CarPlay

There are over 500 cars compatible with the Apple CarPlay application. Some of the top brand names include:

  • Acura
  • Alfa Romeo
  • Aston Martin
  • Audi
  • BMW
  • Cadillac
  • Chevrolet
  • Citroen
  • Fiat
  • Ford
  • Honda
  • Hyundai
  • Jaguar
  • Kia
  • Land Rover
  • Mercedes-Benz
  • Nissan
  • Peugeot
  • Porsche
  • Renault
  • Seat
  • Vauxhall
  • Volkswagen

For a full list of the compatible cars, model and year, you can check the official Apple page.

iPhone models compatible with CarPlay

  • iPhone 5, 5c, 5s
  • iPhone SE
  • iPhone 6, 6s, 6 Plus, S6 Plus
  • iPhone 7, 7 Plus
  • iPhone 8, 8 Plus
  • iPhone X, Xr, Xs, Xs Max
  • iPhone 11, 11 Pro, 11 Pro Max

How does Apple CarPlay work?

It’s easy to understand how CarPlay works. The great news is that you won’t have to install anything to get started. There are two ways to connect your car, and for both, you will need to make sure that Siri is turned on.

How to connect to Apple CarPlay

Via USB, connect your phone to your car USB port, preferable with a good-quality, high-speed cable. If your vehicle has less than a couple of years, you might be able to connect wirelessly, so after ensuring that you are in wireless/Bluetooth mode, press and hold the voice command button on your steering wheel.

From there:

  • Go to settings;
  • Click on “General”;
  • Select “CarPlay”;
  • Select “Available cars”;
  • Find your car and tap on it.

To use CarPlay from here on, you need to either connect your iPhone via the USB cable or make sure your wireless connection is turned on. You will be able to customize the CarPlay apps that appear on the dashboard in your car.

Again, in the CarPlay settings, you can add or delete the apps depending on what you want to see.

What apps can I use with CarPlay?

It is true that you won’t be able to use as many apps with Apple CarPlay as you can with other systems. You also have to bear in mind that this isn’t a system to use your iPhone as you normally would. For instance, you can’t watch YouTube videos to avoid distractions that could cause an accident.

The default iPhone apps include Phone, Calendar, Music, Maps, Messages, Now Playing, Podcasts, and Audiobooks.

The biggest messaging solution for CarPlay is WhatsApp. If you want music apps, you can download Amazon MusicYouTube Music, and Spotify, among others. Needless to say, Google Maps is probably the preferred navigation app for most but you can also use Waze.

If you want a complete Apple CarPlay guide to apps, you can click here.

What are the best CarPlay features?

CarPlay Interface: The new interface that comes with CarPlay is pretty awesome. With its split-screen, you can see what is happening with more than one app.

You can have your map navigating you to a site on the main part of the screen but then on the right-hand side, you can set the interface up to see your ETA, calendar events, and even what song is playing.

Hey Siri: All of your apps can be controlled using your voice and calling “Hey Siri”. If you press and hold the voice command button on your steering wheel or the CarPlay home button on your dashboard screen, you can ask Siri questions, or ask her to do things like play music, listen to radio stations, or navigate to a location.

You can make phone calls and send messages too. If you have Apple’s HomeKit, Siri will even open your garage door. Siri and Apple Maps together is one of the best ways to navigate.

User-friendly: Apple CarPlay is very simple to use, even if you are new to Apple. The interface is simple, each app icon is large which makes it even easier to keep your eyes on the road. Many of the third-party apps you download can also be seen on the dashboard.

So, is Apple CarPlay worth It?

First of all, you have to understand that while there are many cars that feature Apple CarPlay integration, it doesn’t mean that yours is included. Honda and Ford like some other brands, include it with their range of models.

BMW includes it for free for the first 12 months but then users have to pay a subscription fee. It will also cost you some money to have CarPlay in your Mercedes and even more for Ferrari to install the CarPlay software.

Is CarPlay worth it? Perhaps the question comes down to your perspective. If you have the money to buy a Ferrari, you can probably afford the CarPlay experience without any fuss. We are used to Apple being more expensive than most technology, so for a sleek, easy to use and safe system, we think that it is money well spent.

Wrap Up

What can we say except Apple, you’ve done it again! To connect to Apple CarPlay there are no complicated downloading or creating accounts. In a couple of steps, you are ready to start driving safely.

There are some Apple Carplay requirements but nothing that you wouldn’t expect from similar systems. You can find a good number of apps, and really far more than you would ever need when driving.

We hope this Apple CarPlay guide was useful and you’re now clarified on how does CarPlay work.

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