2019 Apple CarPlay Review: How to Install and Use It13 min read14/10/2018
A smartphone is what you definitely shouldn’t use while driving. Texting, answering calls without handsfree car kits, and switching between different soundtracks with a mobile device are prohibited actions unless you use Apple CarPlay.
With the growing popularity of wireless data exchange technologies and vehicles becoming more digitized, drivers turn towards connecting their mobile devices to a car instead of relying on original in-car infotainment systems. According to Statista, 23% of car owners suppose that Apple CarPlay is a must-have for new vehicles as of 2017. The survey also shows that 56% of respondents are interested in the new Apple’s solution.
We at CyberPulse have conducted a test-drive and will share with you how to install Apple Carplay, the features it has, and how to use this tool in your car.
What is Apple CarPlay?
Apple CarPlay is a system that allows you to connect your iPhone or iPad to the in-car infotainment system and use a set of helpful features of your mobile device using a display of in your vehicle.
Apple CarPlay features include:
The main advantage of Apple’s solution is that it allows you to use all of the above-mentioned features in an easy and safe way without getting distracted from the road. With CarPlay, you can’t use Instagram or play some mobile game. It provides access to a limited number of compatible apps. However, these apps are enough to turn your iPhone into a full-fledged in-car multimedia system that can even replace the original one.
To use Apple CarPlay, you don’t need to download and install the mobile app from App Store unlike in the case of Android Auto. On iPhones based on iOS 8 and higher, it’s already there. When connecting Apple’s in-car infotainment system, you should remember that it quickly empties your smartphone battery. So, one way or another, you will have to use your cable at least to charge the battery.
No worries if you don’t know how to connect CarPlay since it’s an easy and fast process. To connect your iPhone to your car, you can use an original USB Type-C cable. Once connected, you will see the CarPlay logo on a display of your mobile device. Follow all the instructions that usually ask for unlocking the connected smartphone to enable the system to access it. The configuration process happens only the first time you connect your mobile device to Apple CarPlay. The next time you connect your iPhone, the system will skip the configuration process. To turn off CarPlay, you need to disconnect the cable or press the “Back” button on a display of the in-car infotainment system and choose the necessary original app.
However, your car should support CarPlay regardless of you are going to connect the system wirelessly or with a cable. It supports a wide range of car models produced in 2016 and later.
Cars with Apple CarPlay:
- Kia, etc.
Tesla doesn’t support Apple CarPlay. However, the new software update in Tesla Model 3 enables the car to work with Siri. Drivers can ask the voice assistant to honk the horn and inform them whether the car doors are open as well as close them if needed. In 2016, Elon Musk said he hoped that Tesla would be able to project mobile apps onto the center display console. So the support of Apple’s information system may have become a part of their plans.
When it comes of mobile devices, CarPlay is compatible with all iPhones starting from iPhone 5. If you have your Apple CarPlay not working and not connecting, check whether your car is compatible with it on the vendor’s official website.
How does Apple CarPlay work?
Another advantage of Apple’s solution is that you have no need for purchasing a new multimedia system with the next CarPlay update. The tool works as sort of a projector that displays iPhone features on a screen of your in-car infotainment system. Therefore, if you delete any of the standard iOS mobile apps, you won’t be able to use it with CarPlay. The latter only replicates and even limits your iPhone functionality rather than expands it.
The good news is that the CarPlay interface looks exactly the same as a standard iOS one. Therefore, those who use this system for the first time will have no problems with it. App icons and their placement are identical to the ones on your iPhone. Browsing through the menu in Apple CarPlay feels the same compared to iOS-based mobile devices.
With Apple’s in-car infotainment system, you can safely receive calls as well as dial numbers while driving. There’s no need for the manual search of the certain number. Instead, you can use Siri. The voice assistant properly recognizes human requests and dials right numbers every time you ask it to.
Apple CarPlay provides the full functionality of iOS-based mobile devices when it comes to calls. You can scroll your contacts as well as find a list of recently dialed numbers and favorite contacts. To do it, you can use buttons on the steering wheel or the original multimedia system.
CarPlay synchronizes with iPhone to show notifications about missed calls on a display of the in-car infotainment system. You also can dial numbers in a handsfree manner using the built-in voice assistant. The voice recognition feature works well in most cases unless your car windows are open. Because of the outdoor noise, Siri may pick a wrong number or ask you for repeating the name of your contact.
Apple Music is one of the best music apps on mobile devices. The only significant competitor is Spotify, which is also supported by CarPlay. While driving, you can use all the capabilities of Apple Music in your car including radio, except search. The app doesn’t allow drivers to type in artist names or song titles in order to ensure car owners keep an eye on the road. Unfortunately, Siri doesn’t work with Apple Music in CarPlay. That’s why you only can play music from your playlist. You can create one using CarPlay that forms this playlist on a base of previously liked songs.
With Apple CarPlay, drivers can safely send, read. and respond to text messages using Siri. Because of the voice assistant, you have no need for texting on your iPhone and getting distracted from the road. Apple’s in-car infotainment system has an adapted the iMessage mobile app that contains no message history or attached files. Furthermore, you can’t send any smiles, stickers, or emojis. The CarPlay messenger has the most important features that enable drivers to remain updated and react in case of emergency.
Instead of displaying the text of the received message, the system allows you to play the last text message in the selected dialog by clicking on the blue arrow icon and dictate the answer to it. Before sending your message, the app will play it to let you make sure it has correctly recognized it. Your recipient will receive this message in the text form. However, speech recognition errors may sometimes occur. Outdoor noise can dramatically influence how properly the system converts human voice to text messages.
Apple Maps are way better than most original in-car navigation systems. This app can access your contact list and even messages on your iPhone to retrieve the necessary address and navigate you to the destination point. To enter any address, you can use Siri as well. You also can ask the voice assistant for finding nearby fueling stations or restaurants.
Apple Maps works with CarPlay in the same way the app works on your iPhone. It provides turn-by-turn directions on the screen of your original in-car multimedia system. The mobile app displays traffic levels on your way ahead and timely reroutes for you to reach your destination point as fast as possible.
Since the Apple Maps app relies on the current mobile network coverage to route and provide the road information, you can lose your way when the signal is lost. Although, you can foresee such a situation and save your map and route in advance before going on a trip. Therefore, you will know how to get to the destination point even without the mobile network coverage. However, if you miss a turn, the app won’t be able to reroute without a stable signal.
Besides original Apple mobile apps, CarPlay supports a wide range of third-party solutions. They include messengers, audiobooks, music, radio, and navigation apps. The system used to support only Apple Maps when it comes to navigation. However, the new iOS 12 now supports Google Maps and Waze.
Apple CarPlay apps:
- CBS Radio
- Slacker Radio
- NRP One
- Radio Disney
- Amazon Music
- Google Play Music
- SiriusXM Radio
- At Bat
- Google Maps
Most third-party apps supported by Apple CarPlay look and work in the same way they do on iOS-based mobile devices.
Third-party Apple CarPlay head units
If you’re up to an aftermarket car, no need to worry. You will be able to get Apple’s solution even if your vehicle doesn’t support it. Fortunately, some vendors offer their own in-car infotainment systems that support Apple CarPlay. The list of this vendors includes Kenwood, JVC, Sony, Pioneer, and Alpine.
Third-party infotainment systems that support Apple CarPlay:
- Alpine iLX-107
- Pioneer AppRadio 4 (preferred capacitive display)
- Kenwood DDX6702S
- Alpine ILX-007
- Pioneer AVIC8100NEX (larger preferred capacitive display)
- JVC KW-V820BT
- Pioneer AVH-4100NEX
- Alpine Electronics i109-WRA (for Jeep Wranglers)
- Sony XAV-AX100
Let’s review some of the above-mentioned solutions.
Presented in 2017 Alpine iLX-107, an in-car infotainment system, has a 7-inch touchscreen with a WVGA 800 × 480 resolution. The head unit has an AM/FM radio and helps drivers see what’s going behind their car using a rear-view camera not included in the package. The key advantage of Alpine iLX-107 is that it supports Wireless Apple CarPlay as well as all its features such as messaging, calls, navigation, and music. To connect wirelessly to an iOS-based mobile device, the head unit uses 5GHz Wi-Fi. Alpine iLX-107 costs about $700.
The information and entertainment system from Pioneer has 7-inch clear resistive touchscreen with a WVGA resolution of 800 × 480 pixels. The head unit has Bluetooth that allows drivers to connect their iPhone wirelessly. Built-in Bluetooth enables hands-free calls and audio streaming as well as connecting to Apple CarPlay without the need for using the Lightning cable. The price of Pioneer AVH-4100NEX is $440.
The head unit from Sony has a 6.4-inch touchscreen with a resolution of 800×480 pixels. The stereo system includes speakers and a microphone for voice commands via Siri. The standard set of applications also includes podcasts and Internet radio. Sony XAV-AX100 enables drivers to install advanced settings such as filters and an equalizer with the Sony original app. All Apple CarPlay apps will be available when you connect your iPhone via the Lightning cable. When disconnected, the head unit can display the image from a rear-view camera and show climate control system settings. Sony XAV-AX100 costs about $280.
The 6.2-inch touchscreen display of the Kenwood’s multimedia system provides a high-resolution image with the adjustable brightness. With this in-car infotainment system. you can benefit from all Apple CarPlay capabilities including the voice control feature. The solution has Bluetooth that will allow you to listen to Internet radio stations with your iPhone connected wirelessly. The main advantage of Kenwood DDX6702S is that it supports video files. The system costs about $300.
JVC KW-V820BT has a resistive 6.2-inch display that allows drivers to navigate through the menu even using gloves. It has a wide range of setting options that enable users to improve brightness, black level, and contrast. As soon as you connect your iPhone to the JVC’s system with the Lightning cable or via Bluetooth, you can click on the Apple CarPlay logo on the home screen to start using the safe version of iOS in your car while driving. It supports all the capabilities of Apple’s in-car infotainment system. The cost of JVC KW-V820BT varies from $340 to $380.
Is Apple CarPlay worth it? Well, it depends on what you expect from this system. It has a limited number of functions compared to your iPhone, but the question is whether you really need all of them while driving. For instance, you can’t search the Internet using a voice assistant. This is the main difference between Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
It also depends on what you will compare CarPlay with. Compared to most original infotainment systems? Then, yes, it’s a way better when it comes to navigation or online music. However, an original system can provide useful information about your car such as climate control and suspension configuration. Compared to your iPhone? Definitely not, even though you can control Apple CarPlay using Siri just like you sometimes do when using your mobile device.
- You can connect your iPhone without any cables. Once you get in the car, the connection happens automatically and you can use the navigator, listen to favorite music as well as dial a number or send messages.
- The system plays text messages and you can easily reply to them with the voice assistant while keeping your eyes on the road and holding the steering wheel.
- You can control the music player in the same way as with your iPhone.
- The interface of Apple CarPlay replicates the interface of iOS-based devices.
- You can use one of the alternative navigation apps such as Google Maps, Waze, or Baidu instead of Apple Maps.
- Few original infotainment systems can connect to CarPlay wirelessly. It depends on the model of your car. In most cases, you will need to connect the Lightning cable to use the system.
- When you get in the car while listening to music using Apple Music, CarPlay automatically starts playing songs via the car speakers, However, if you use Spotify, you need to click on the Play button once again using your iPhone once you connect the smartphone to your car.
- Siri is imperfect in recognizing the human voice. That’s why you can sometimes send a weird text message to your recipient.
- You can’t search for a certain soundtrack when using Apple CarPlay. You have only the following options: Play/Pause and Previous/Next Track.
- You can deploy a third-party infotainment system if you have an outdated car to use Apple CarPlay. However, you should think before spending $400-700 taking into account that you can use your iPhone with a cheap plastic holder on the control panel for navigation. When it comes to music, you can connect your iPhone via Bluetooth and use whatever player you like. Furthermore, you can connect your smartphone via the AUX output to a low-end audio system to listen to music.
Therefore, CarPlay is just a good bonus for your car, but it hardly is something you really need or what you should focus on when choosing a new car. It’s just an effective option that can be easily replaced with much cheaper solutions.