What Is Apple CarPlay?

If you own a car and use an iPhone but haven't heard of Apple CarPlay, then your world is about to change!

With the help of an intelligent interface, easy and fast connectivity to your phone and tons of features that make using your phone while you drive a lot safer, Apple CarPlay is the ultimate co-pilot for any kind of journey.

In this article we’re going to take a closer look at the main features and benefits of this tech, and how you can get Apple CarPlay in your car.

So, what is Apple CarPlay?

Apple CarPlay is a piece of tech developed by Apple that connects an iPhone to a compatible head unit (the interface in your centre console where you control the stereo, phone connectivity and sometimes navigation). It will provide a simplified version of your phone screen on the display and enable you to access your phone’s features easily and safely via the touchscreen or voice commands.

How does it work?

Apple CarPlay seamlessly integrates with all your car's inbuilt audio controls, so you don't need to take your eyes off the road. As long as you have an iPhone 5 or better, you'll be able to enjoy the benefits of Apple CarPlay.

Connect your iPhone to the car head unit using an official cable and follow the on-screen instructions. You’ll then be able to access selected apps on your iPhone via the head unit, including maps, phone calls, messages, music apps and settings.

What are the main features of Apple CarPlay?

  • Listen to music: You can enjoy your favourite tracks and podcasts through iTunes, your Apple Music subscription or a compatible third-party app such as Spotify.
  • Navigate: Apple CarPlay can display Apple or Google Maps on the head unit display as you drive, acting just like a built-in sat nav.
  • Make hands-free calls: With the help of Siri, you can call contacts using just your voice, meaning you can keep your hands on the wheel and eyes on the road.
  • Check your messages: If you spot an important text message notification on your head unit's display, you can ask Siri to read it out for you, then dictate a reply, all without taking your attention off the road.
  • Enjoy third-party apps: With a bit of exploration and some playing around on your head unit when you're parked up safely, you can add a whole host of voice-controlled apps to your CarPlay home screen. From audiobooks and live radio to real-time sports and news updates, there are plenty of additional apps for Apple CarPlay to make the journey go quicker.

How can I get Apple CarPlay in my car?

Many new cars offer head units with Apple CarPlay as an optional extra, so you can simply plug in your iPhone and start using it. However, if you have an older head unit or a system that isn't compatible with CarPlay, you may want to upgrade.

We offer a range of car stereos/head units that include Apple CarPlay, providing the ideal solution for those who fancy the tech without getting a new set of wheels. We can also fit them for you on a date and at a time that suits you, taking all of the hassle out of the process. Simply choose the fitting option when you check out online or speak to one of our colleagues if you’re in-store.

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Is Apple CarPlay safe to use?

Absolutely. As everything is voice activated while you drive, the head unit isn't any different from a normal hands-free system or sat nav. The only time you'll be breaking the law is if you physically pick up your phone instead of using voice activation, or if you try to operate the screen without giving full attention to the road.

How do I know if my phone is compatible with Apple CarPlay?

Any iPhone that has a lightning connector (iPhone 5 onwards) will be compatible with Apple CarPlay. iPads aren’t compatible.

How much data does Apple CarPlay use?

Apple CarPlay has been developed to economise data usage. In some cases, data is saved to the device while it’s connected to Wi-Fi to minimise the data usage during streaming.

Data usage is dependent on each individual app. For accurate data usage estimates, check with individual app developers.

Which apps are compatible with Apple CarPlay?

There are many compatible apps available, and you can find them by entering ‘CarPlay’ into the App Store. Only apps that are considered safe to use in a vehicle while moving receive IOS approval.

How can I get my phone to automatically connect to Apple CarPlay?

Plug in the authorised USB lightning cable or the cable provided with the device into a CarPlay compatible head unit. If the unit is Wi-Fi enabled, and the Wi-Fi connection was enabled during the CarPlay on-screen set up, then the device will automatically connect once the unit has turned on.

How can I get Apple CarPlay to auto-start and how can I exit the app?

Apple CarPlay won’t auto-start – you need to select the app on your stereo/head unit before using it. You can exit the app by clicking the home button on the touchscreen.

How can I use Siri with Apple CarPlay?

Hold down the home button on the touchscreen or say ‘Hey Siri’ while your phone is connected and using CarPlay.

How can I change my Apple CarPlay wallpaper?

You can change your Apple CarPlay wallpaper in the CarPlay settings, when your iPhone is connected to the head unit. Simply click on the Settings icon (grey cogs).

If you’ve got an Android phone instead of an iPhone, Google has developed its own version of this tech called Android Auto. Find out more about it here.

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