Apple CarPlay is an iPhone mode specifically designed for driving. It works with your car’s controls to display a CarPlay Dashboard that provides traffic and directions information, as well as acting as a media control. Essentially, everything that you could need to look down at your phone for, you can now do easily by using the tips of your fingers on your car’s dashboard.
Using, or even holding, a handheld mobile device whilst driving is illegal in the UK and can carry a penalty of a £200 fine and up to six points on your driving licence. However, it is legal to use a mobile with voice commands if it is mounted in a hands-free holder. Apple CarPlay exists to make this easier.
As a motorist with Apple CarPlay, you can use the same functions as an iPhone on your car’s dashboard. Use it for directions, to make calls, send voice-activated texts and listen to music or podcasts. Some third-party apps like Audible and Spotify are available for use through CarPlay. All the features include large app icons so that they’re easy to use when your attention is elsewhere.
One of the main Apple CarPlay features is the integration of Apple Maps, which will act as your satnav in the car and provide both directions and traffic information. Apple has also added the ability to use third-party navigations apps such as Google Maps and Waze after initially only allowing users to use their own navigation solution.
Apple CarPlay integrates Apple Music, Apple’s proprietary music streaming service. This means that if you have an Apple Music account, you can use CarPlay to control your music using your car’s built-in controls. Similarly to maps, you can also use third-party apps such as Spotify or Deezer to stream music through CarPlay.
Motorists who have voice recognition technology and a touchscreen dashboard may get the most from Apple CarPlay. Siri, Apple’s voice assistant service, will work through CarPlay which is a great added feature. Bear in mind that vehicle controls like air conditioning or radio aren’t available to adjust through Apple CarPlay, so you’ll need to exit the application to use these.
Every iPhone currently on the market is compatible with Apple CarPlay, as long as it runs iOS 7.1 or higher. It is also possible to use CarPlay through an Apple Watch, but you can’t use it with an iPad.
To use CarPlay, you simply connect your device to your car using a USB port or Bluetooth to get started. You can then use your dashboard buttons, rotary dials, or touchscreen to navigate the system.
More than 200 car models from 40 manufacturers are compatible with Apple CarPlay. It is also possible to buy aftermarket units that allow you to use the benefits of Apple CarPlay in older vehicles, but they can be expensive to install.
Apple CarPlay is probably the most well-known system for connecting mobiles to cars, but there are others too. Android Auto offers similar functionality to CarPlay: GPS, music and messaging. MirrorLink also works in a similar way and is compatible with Android devices only.