Apple CarPlay

What is Apple CarPlay and what exactly does it do?

Over 200 models of car now feature Apple CarPlay.

APPLE CALLS ITS CarPlay system the ‘ultimate copilot’. So… what is it?

Well, it’s basically a safer way of using your iPhone in the car – it lets owners access their iPhone’s functions directly from the car’s touchscreen.

If a car has CarPlay it means you can connect your iPhone via a USB cable (or wirelessly if you have a new BMW 5 Series) and the familiar iOS interface will appear on the car’s display screen. This allows you to use apps and your phone by touching the screen or by using the car’s buttons or Siri voice control.

This means you don’t have to look at or pick the phone up, which is dangerous (not to mention illegal) to do while driving. You can keep your eyes on the road and your hands on the wheel.

Only iPhone 5 and newer devices can run CarPlay and only selected apps are compatible so you won’t be able to swipe left or right when driving.

The apps you can use are Apple Maps and Music, AudioBooks and Podcasts, Spotify, Audible, Amazon Music, iHeartRadio and some other radio apps. You can also use your phone’s call functions and messages.

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So how does it work?


Well, let’s say you are driving and you get a text message. Siri will read out your text message and ask if you would like to reply. You then speak your reply and Siri sends the message. This is a great function if you actually use Messages… but not so good if your main message app is WhatsApp as this isn’t compatible.


If you want to call someone, you just press the little home icon on the screen or voice command button and tell Siri who you’d like to call. You can also tell Siri to call your voicemail.


If someone sends you a message or email which includes an address you can open up the Maps app and click on the message and Maps will set the address as the destination. Maps will also show you all your previous destinations and addresses found in your messages, which makes navigating to frequent locations very easy.


You can also tell Siri to find a particular restaurant or the nearest petrol station and Siri will produce a list from which you select the one you want to go to. Again, all of this works really well if you use Maps as your main navigation system but if you use Google Maps this isn’t available on CarPlay.


The best thing about CarPlay is the ability to have your music library with you and stream it through your car’s audio system. Apple Music allows you to access all your iTunes content and the Apple Music Store to play your favourite tracks and playlists. If you don’t use Apple Music you can use the Spotify app to listen to your music.


If audiobooks are your thing, you can use Audiobooks and Audible. One of the best things about the Audible app is it will pick up where you left off if you were listening on another device. You can also listen to your favourite podcasts using the Podcast app.

Apple CarPlay is great because it does make driving safer, especially for those that talk a lot when driving and it can help save time by being able to respond to messages whilst on the move. (To bring CarPlay to the next level, I would argue that Apple needs to make the read, reply and send functions available for emails too.)

The one thing I don’t like about CarPlay is you can’t use the manufacturer’s sat-nav system when you have Apple’s system activated, and I find most car sat-nav systems have better mapping of Ireland than Apple Maps. However, having CarPlay does mean that you don’t have to cough up extra cash for a separate sat-nav.

Almost every major car maker currently offers models that support Apple CarPlay or is planning to introduce them. There are currently more than 200 models of car with CarPlay.

If your car doesn’t have CarPlay and you aren’t planning on buying a new car anytime soon, you can buy stereo systems with CarPlay that you can install yourself.

So, if you have an iPhone and your car features Apple CarPlay, plug in and make your driving safer and more enjoyable, too.

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