CarPlay is Apple’s solution to automakers’ generally awful infotainment efforts in their cars, trucks and SUVs over the last ten years.
iOS 13 is Apple’s latest phone software, and because iPhones are what runs CarPlay, CarPlay is updated and thus improved. It was released about a month ago, so we’ve had time to experience its changes, improvements, and in some cases, frustrations.
Loves and Hates
There’s no way to End a trip in Apple Maps from the main Maps screen (not Dashboard) — you have to go to the phone itself to find the red End button.
The overview/detail button in Apple Maps isn’t clear, and usually doesn’t work. Sometimes it’s a compass arrow, sometimes it’s a squiggly, in all cases it’s either laggy or doesn’t do anything. See photo below.
The new dashboard is nice, not mind-blowing, but nice.
More controls have been “surfaced” up to a single tap from the top-level. See photo below.
Siri still doesn’t do much for me. She’s just a nice-sounding interface to static information.
The improved interaction of Calendar in CarPlay is super.
Changes in iOS 13 CarPlay
CarPlay is now five years old!
Do not disturb while driving shows a moon icon near signal strength and battery level.
The secondary display — your iPhone itself — remains unchanged in the various configurations we’ve tried it with.
Siri is not in this list of changes despite what Apple says.
When Will Siri Show Up?
When will Siri show up as an intelligent, AI-powered feature that predicts things we consider truly useful? She’s still a basic assistant who is simply an intermediary between your daily business and you. She just looks up stuff you could find with a quick look at your calendar, your messages, your email, etc.
Wake me when Siri is an actual AI, one that predicts your needs and offers you useful information before it occurs to you to find it. My test for this behavior milestone is when Siri offers me information that I say “I didn’t know I needed that.”
iOS 13 offers some nice updates for your iPhone, but it’s also
making Apple CarPlay better, too. After you get your iOS 13 update, you’ll
notice some great extra features, like a brand-new dashboard and several new and
With the new CarPlay dashboard, you’ll notice the most useful
information available to you right away. Now, you can see your map,
navigation, and music availability all in one screen, making things easy to
use. You can now change the song you’re listening to while viewing your next
turn on one screen, meaning you’ll be able to keep your eyes on the road
Music just got a bit cooler with the new CarPlay update. You’ll notice
that it has an all-new look and several familiar library tabs ready for your
favorite tunes. You’ll be able to access the browse feature more easily, making
it simple to hear your favorite tunes. You’ll be able to see things like
recently added tracks and personalized mixes easily. Also, the “Now Playing”
screen is just a tap away.
Apple Maps also comes with a new look, and it’s
quite an improvement. Apple Maps was basically rebuilt from the ground up so
that the road details on the app were better. You’ll love the increase in
detail you’ll see with Apple Maps. While the new version of Apple Maps
is exclusive to users in the United States right now, once the update goes
through a trial one, it will be made more widely available.
improvements made to turn-by-turn directions will become obvious after you use
the navigation a bit more. You’ll hear more natural Siri language, like “Turn right
at the next light,” instead of “In 500 feet, turn left.” You’ll also be able to
find things like food and gas stations more easily as you travel. Plus,
you’ll be able to let your contacts know what your ETA is now when you
Using Siri just
got a little easier, too. We already mentioned that Siri’s turn-by-turn
directions are better, but “Hey Siri” is now supported fully in CarPlay. So,
Siri will work now with car manufacturer’s microphones without issue. So
you won’t have to press a button before you talk to Siri.
One thing we
did noticed is that Siri doesn’t always hear the driver right away if there is
other background noise. However, if this becomes a real problem, you may
just need to get a better microphone to cut back on the problem.
Your mileage may vary when it comes to using “Hey Siri,”
however. I’ve found that Siri doesn’t always hear me over music and other
background noise — but that could be down to the microphones in my car, rather
The New Calendar App
Now you won’t need Siri to get to your calendar. CarPlay now has its own Calendar app, and it lets you see the day you have planned with one simple glance. The new Calendar app also makes it simple to get directions to your next destination. You can select the event you’re going to, and you’ll see an option to get navigation help to arrive safely.
The new light
mode in CarPlay is also worth mentioning. While dark mode is the
default, you can switch color schemes if you go into Settings.
Why do we report on iOS? Because it’s the “parent” of CarPlay; CarPlay runs under iOS, while iOS is the operating system software that runs your phone. When something changes/improves/breaks/gets fixed in iOS, it can affect CarPlay, thus our interest in iOS in general and iOS 13 in particular.
iOS 13 is likely to debut on September 18. As with all iOS releases, major and minor, it’s free to all iPhone owners.
Improved CarPlay Experience
That said, what this update boils down to for us CarPlay aficionados is CarPlay providing easier calendar viewing, route planning/navigation, searching, improved visuals designed to get info to your brain with as little effort as possible, as well as things like the new Junction View.
The All-New CarPlay Dashboard
more exciting, your CarPlay Dashboard comes with a new and improved look.
The goal of this redesign is to make things easier for you while you drive.
Your new CarPlay Dashboard allows you to do everything
in one place including maps, adjusting the sound, and accessing Siri.
you get the new iOS 13 update, you’ll see a new look on your Dashboard.
You’ll also notice a change in the way Maps works, and Maps works a bit
differently with your dashboard. You’ll see the dashboard offer up some
navigation information, a small screen of Maps, and a music player feature.
the new iOS 13 update, you’ll still be able to use Siri Suggestions as
well. However, how you access and use Siri will affect the way Siri responds,
so Siri’s content could be different from user to user.
can also customize the way your CarPlay Dashboard
works if you want something that’s easier for you. Here are the steps:
Go into the Settings menu.
Select general options.
You’ll see the CarPlay settings here. From here, you can add more options and take others out as you see fit
updates make the program more consistent because the amount of interruptions
you might experience while driving have now been decreased. Before the new
update, your iPhone would be connected to the dashboard, which could sometimes malfunction
while driving if the iPhone was touched, so drivers needed to take the
time to reconnect.
thankfully, those days are long gone. The app functions separately on the car’s
dashboard and you can see your iPhone mirroring it. So your passengers
can use your iPhone and CarPlay will continue to function as normal as long as
the phone remains plugged into your dashboard.
also now have the choice to use Dark Mode if it’s easier for you to
view. Dark Mode utilizes dark colors on the app’s menus, which makes things
easier to view for some individuals. If you tend to experience eye strain
often, then Dark Mode should really help you out.
If needed, Dark Mode is also available for the
CarPlay app which makes use of dark colors for the app’s menus. This new
setting is said to reduce eye strain from looking at a dark road and to
the infotainment screen.
Maps is 100% brand-new! Redesigned, improved and better looking, like us writers at CPW.
You can also customize Maps UI with your favorite apps. You can see app shortcuts while you are looking at Maps, and also see a location history. While you are driving, you can even set Maps UI to send out ETA messages so your friends and contacts know where you are and when you might show up.
The Look — the look is brand-new, “Rebuilt from the ground up”. Yessss… not that we didn’t like the current Maps, how it draws roads and buildings.
We like new graphics for the sake of cool new stuff. Sorry, but it’s true! Maps will have more realistic details for roads, beaches, parks, buildings, etc.
Junction View — In addition to, well, better intersection views, this feature is basically Maps telling you which lane to be in for turns or merges. Oh hell yea ❤️.
Junction View helps drivers eliminate wrong turns and directional misses by lining them up in the correct lane before they need to turn or enter an elevated road.
We all knew it was coming, and after several months of hearing about its upcoming release in 2017, the first wireless CarPlay receiver arrived. The Alpine iLX-107 digital media receiver started shipping during the summer of 2017. While this new Alpine product comes without a CD player, it does bring users a built-in WiFi network that can be used with Bluetooth to work with an iPhone and CarPlay. Once you’ve got the initial setup and pairing process with your phone completed, you’ll be able to use CarPlay on the Alpine’s stereo system without having to touch your phone for any reason each time you enter your car. Since the Alpine’s release, several other stereo systems began offering these options. You can check out the full list of aftermarket stereos with Apple CarPlay as well as testing to see if your car will work with wireless CarPlay by going here.
Before wireless CarPlay hit the market, and still for most users, CarPlay requires a USB-to-Lightning cable connection between the CarPlay receiver and a person’s iPhone. With wired CarPlay, users do not need any other type of wireless method of data transfer.
When Alpine first introduced its wireless CarPlay receiver, one of the biggest concerns about the product was its lack of Bluetooth. However, since Alpine’s introduction of their wireless receiver on the market, they’ve since revised the product to include Bluetooth. Rumors about wireless CarPlay have been flooding the market since the software’s ability to create a wireless connection was included with the first introduction of iOS 9. But since then, no official hardware had been introduced as a standard feature of wireless CarPlay.
What Vehicles Offer Wireless CarPlay?
There aren’t a lot of
vehicles currently offering wireless Apple CarPlay, but we anticipate that this
list will grow in the future. For now, however, here is today’s list:
BMW 2017 5 Series
BMW 2018 3 Series
Audi 2019 A6
Audi 2019 A7
Audi 2019 A8
Audi 2019 Q8
Audi 2020 e-tron SUV
Mercedes 2018 A-Class
Mercedes 2019 GLE
Mini 2018 LCI Hatch
& Convertible range
Toyota 2020 Supra
So while you can see
that this is a short list, we do have some good news. Harman, a company that
works on connected devices for several different car manufacturers, has come up
with a wireless CarPlay solution that many car makers are interested in.
So, it seems like it’s only a matter of time
before this list grows.
How Wireless CarPlay Works
CarPlay works without a USB wired connection. So, with wireless CarPlay, the
data transfer between the iPhone and receiver would usually take place with the
use of Bluetooth, WiFi, or a combination of both of these options. We recommend
finding a solution that works with just WiFi, or a combination of WiFi and
Bluetooth, since Bluetooth alone is probably not strong enough to keep the data
transfer speed at a fast, useable rate while drivers are on the go.
As the demand for smart cars grows, all major automakers have introduced CarPlay (“iOS for your car”) to the majority of their model lines. The last few stragglers are cleaning up by adding CarPlay to the remaining few vehicles that escaped this treatment up to now.
The 2020 Toyota Highlander, 2020 Nissan Versa, and the 2020 Hyundai Venue are amongst these stragglers’ models — recently debuted at the 2019 New York International Auto Show — to include CarPlay for the first time.
The 2020 Toyota Highlander and the 2020 Hyundai Venue will come with CarPlay as a standard feature on all trims. All variants of these two cars will feature an 8-inch touchscreen display, except the Platinum trim of the Highlander, which will be equipped with a 12.3-inch touch screen. The 2020 Nissan Versa will have CarPlay as an upgrade option with a 7-inch touchscreen display.
These three models are equipped with CarPlay — just plug an iPhone into the USB port and gain convenient access to frequently used apps, at least the ones Apple lets you use. Send a text, make a phone call, access maps, etc. directly from the driver’s seat. The 2020 Versa will go on sale this summer (2019), followed by the nonhybrid 2020 Highlander, and the Venue in fall/winter of 2019. The hybrid Highlander is expected to be released in February 2020.
If you’re willing to hack your phone (“jailbreak” it), you can run every app under CarPlay. That’s a big “if”. Why would you want to do this?
There are actually more automobile models that are CarPlay enabled than there are CarPlay apps.
Essentially, CarBridge allows you to use your car’s display as if it were your iPhone’s display. Suddenly, the number of apps available to you in your car went from several dozen to 2.1 million.
With CarBridge, you can take any app on your iPhone and attempt to load it onto your Apple CarPlay supported touchscreen head-unit. Being stuck with Apple’s limited CarPlay app selection is no longer an issue. Apps display with their native interface and appear just how you remember them on your phone with the addition of being enlarged for the bigger CarPlay screen size.
Utilize the full power of your apps without limitation: CarBridge allows you to have 2 apps open at once! One for your phone and one for the car. You can even swap a single app back and forth between the car and your phone without closing it.
CarBridge also allows you to bridge official CarPlay apps which disables the official CarPlay portion of the app and enables the ability to show the full iPhone app on CarPlay, so you can use Apple Maps on your car without limitation, just how you remember it.
Apple CarPlay and Android Auto React Quicker Than Native Infotainment Systems
… and when the display shows you what you want faster, you spend more time watching the road than the screen. That’s the goal of CarPlay. See the Digital Trends story.
In its latest automotive safety report, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety measured the distraction times required for drivers to complete typical in-car infotainment tasks and the results showed Google’s Android Auto and Apple’s Carplay were significantly faster on average than car manufacturer’s native infotainment systems. The smartphone apps were 24 percent (five seconds) faster when making phone calls and 31 percent (15 seconds) faster programming navigation than standard car systems.
Even with faster performance than in-car systems, however, the smartphone apps were overly demanding. According to the AAA, drivers double their crash risk when they take their eyes off the road for more than two seconds. The group stated that distracted driving causes 3,500 deaths and 390,000 injuries annually.
We thought this was very interesting, and a feather in CarPlay’s cap:
The researchers considered CarPlay and Android Auto roughly equivalent in visual demand, mental demand, and the time needed to complete infotainment tasks. Overall, the group rated the smartphone apps “moderately demanding” and the native systems “very highly demanding.”
In other words, Apple (and Google) are achieving what they set out to do: reduce driver demands, aka, don’t crash.
What we’ve been waiting for has finally happened! Mazda announced last week that they’re now offering a Mazda Carplay retrofit in the US for all 2014 and up vehicles with their Mazda CONNECT infotainment system.
The update has a suggested retail of $199 + labor and you’ll have to bring your vehicle into a dealer to get the work done. Mazda notes the Carplay upgrade takes a couple hours to complete, so you’re likely looking at a total cost around $400 or so.
The upgrade includes both new software and hardware components as well as a faster, 2.1 amp USB port and the latest version of Mazda CONNECT.
Mazda introduced the CONNECT infotainment system in 2014 across their entire lineup, so if you’ve recently purchased a Mazda3, Mazda2, Mazda6, MX-5, CX-5, CX-9, or CX-3, you shouldn’t have a problem getting the upgrade.
Mazda is pretty late to the CarPlay game, but with this latest offering, they’re jumping straight into the deep end. Both Ford and Hyundai offer CarPlay upgrades in certain vehicles, but no other auto maker is offering the upgrades for so many different models and years.
UPDATE: Mazda announced late in November that they now offers CarPlay upgrades in the US across their lineup. Check out our update on the CarPlay retrofit for details.
Mazda’s now offering Apple CarPlay retrofits in both Canada and Australia for vehicles all the way back to MY 2014. But they’ve yet to release any similar plans for the US. When will this awesome retrofit come to US soil?
Mazda Canada Now Retrofits CarPlay in 6 Models
Back in September 2018, Mazda Canada announced that Apple
CarPlay would come standard in all 2019 models (save the MX-5). Mazda also announced
that, if you recently bought a 2018 Mazda6 or a 2019 CX-3 before the new
production change, you can have CarPlay installed in your vehicle for $250 CAD –
a steal for an OEM piece of equipment.
Mazda’s awesome CarPlay offerings don’t stop there though. They
also announced that they’d offer Carplay for all existing vehicles equipped with the Mazda CONNECT infotainment
systems for a cost of $443 CAD. While 2x as much as for the vehicles above,
that’s still not a bad price for a dealer-installed piece of equipment.
Mazda first introduced their CONNECT system across their
entire range in 2014, so if your Mazda is MY 2014 or newer, you’ve got Mazda
CONNECT. This includes the Mazda3, Mazda2, Mazda6, MX-5, CX-5, CX-9, and CX-3 (itself
introduced in 2016).
Will Mazda Offer This Retrofit in the US?
Unfortunately, in the US things are a bit different. Mazda has already announced they’ll include CarPlay in the 2019 CX-9, but they haven’t yet spilled the beans whether or not they’ll offer the CarPlay retrofit for all the models above.
With Mazda offering the upgrade in both Canada and Australia,we can only assume (or hope) it’ll eventually make it to the US. One good sign: Mazda itself admits that Mazda CONNECT is basically the same the world over.
We really can’t see any reason they wouldn’t offer this
CarPlay retrofit in the US – unless they have a deep loathing for their
Mazda isn’t completely quiet on the home front though. As of
November 2018, they have confirmed that they’re offering a CarPlay retrofit the
2018 Mazda6 – and for free!
2018 Mazda6 Owners Can Already Get a Free Retrofit
If you’ve already got a 2018 Mazda6 – you’re actually in
luck! Starting in September, Mazda dealers across the US began offering
CarPlay/Android Auto retrofits at no
cost. The free retrofit is only available for certain trim levels, so if
you opted for the Touring, Grand Touring, Grand Touring Reserve, or Signature,
you’re good to go.
Mazda first announced this awesome deal back in a Julypress release. For the retrofit, you must bring your Mazda6 into adealer and the procedure includes both hardware and software upgrades and takesabout two hours to complete.
So if you’ve got a 2018 Mazda6 (of one of the trim levels above) but don’t have Apple CarPlay – go to your dealer today and get it for free!
As part of iOS 12, Apple opened up Google Maps to CarPlay. Finally, we’re free of Apple Maps for navigation on CarPlay!
Here’s What Google Maps Looks Like on CarPlay
I find Google Maps on CarPlay to be as good as Google Maps as an app. In other words, it’s the same thing. The difference is CarPlay displays Maps in its own way.
Google Maps on CarPlay is unmistakably a Google product. Clean, pretty Google Sans for accent or emphasis text (titles, major inputs, etc) and Roboto for the rest. Apple Maps uses the tried-and-true Avenir font.
Apple Maps vs. Google Maps, Comparison Screenshots