Wired vs. Wireless CarPlay

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 (unconfirmed)
  • Audi 2019 A7
  • Audi 2019 A8
  • Audi 2019 Q8 (unconfirmed)
  • Audi 2020 e-tron SUV
  • Lamborghini Urus
  • Mercedes 2018 A-Class (Q3 2018)
  • Mercedes 2019 GLE (MBUX system)
  • 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

Wireless CarPlay means you don’t need to plug in your iPhone when you get in your car. Keep your phone in your pocket, purse or backpack… and go!

Wireless 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.


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