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How to use Apple CarPlay in 2021 [Definitive Guide]

Apple CarPlay is a system that allows you to connect your iPhone to the infotainment system in your car. Many of your favorite apps are mirrored onto your car’s dashboard screen so that you can use them safely while you are driving without getting distracted by using your iPhone. Here’s the definitive guide on Apple CarPlay covering how to use Apple CarPlay along with some other useful information.

The main purpose of CarPlay is that you no longer need to take your hands off the steering wheel of your car to use your iPhone’s essential features and apps.

Apple loves being the leader in innovative ideas and CarPlay is no different. The original concept of CarPlay was a collaboration between Apple and BMW in the U.S.A.

It was known as “iPod Out” and it allowed drivers to see and hear analog video and audio from certain iOS devices. This led the way for what we see today as a car-specific interface for apps. In 2013, “iOS in the Car” was released and in 2014, Apple CarPlay was introduced at the Geneva Motor Show.

What is Apple CarPlay?

Apple CarPlay is a service created by Apple that is featured in most modern cars. It is also a feature on most modern car infotainment systems that can be fitted into older vehicles. This allows you to control your iPhone and view apps and media on your device through the screen in your car. It is very similar to the Android Auto service, except it is designed solely for use with Apple iPhones.

The display of the Apple CarPlay service mirrors the display of your own iPhone once your phone has been connected. Because of this, it is very easy to control and use. In this article, we also list the steps on how to use Apple CarPlay.

Initially, you will have to connect your iPhone to the Apple CarPlay system using Bluetooth or a lightning cable. But once you are connected via Bluetooth the connection will switch over to Wi-Fi so that the Bluetooth does not run your phone’s battery down.

One of the most popular features of Apple CarPlay is that it comes with a navigation system that removes the need for an external Satellite-based navigation system. The navigation system on Apple CarPlay comes with moving-map functionality meaning you can track your process on your journey, and ensure you are heading in the right direction.

Apple CarPlay is very popular because it offers the ability to use a lot of different apps, and it is very easy to use.

So, how to use Apple CarPlay?

First, you need to check if your car and iPhone support Apple CarPlay.

Apple CarPlay Requirements

There’s a huge list of cars that support Apple CarPlay. Simply put, most car manufacturers have started implementing Apple CarPlay in their 2016 and later models of vehicles.

how to use apple carplay

For cars that are older than 2016, or do not support Apple CarPlay, you will need a third-party infotainment system if you want to use Apple CarPlay. This is a pocket-friendly approach to using Apple CarPlay rather than buying a completely new vehicle.

Phone-wise, this is an Apple product so it only works with iPhones. You will need one of the following models:

  • iPhone 5, 5c, 5s
  • iPhone SE
  • iPhone 6, 6s, 6 Plus, S6 Plus
  • iPhone 7, 7 Plus
  • iPhone 8, 8 Plus
  • iPhone X, Xr, Xs, Xs Max
  • iPhone 11, 11 Pro, 11 Pro Max
  • iPhone 12, 12 Mini, 12 Pro, 12 Pro Max

Basically, you will need an iPhone 5 or newer. For the latest CarPlay features in iOS 14, you need to have a phone that supports the newest software update (so iPhone 7 and newer).

Here you can check the list of vehicles (cars, motorcycles, and trucks) that support Apple CarPlay.

How does Apple CarPlay work?

It’s easy to understand how CarPlay works. The best part about this is that you won’t have to install any new apps to get use CarPlay. There are two ways to connect your car:

  1. In most of the cars, you can use Apple CarPlay via USB port, connect your iPhone to your car’s USB port.
  2. If you have a newer model car, you can connect wirelessly via Bluetooth as well.
how to use apple carplay

Pairing Up

Option 1: If you have a compatible car and iPhone and want to use Apple CarPlay wirelessly:

On your iPhone, go to Settings > General > CarPlay.

You will now need to add the car as your known device.

To add the car for the first time, turn your Bluetooth on and then look in “Other Devices” at the bottom. Select the car and follow any pairing instructions that pop up.

Option 2: With a USB cable, it’s pretty straightforward. Plug in your phone and the CarPlay interface should load on the car screen.

Note: Your phone will have limited use on the handset while it’s connected to the car. For example, when navigating, you can only use the map on the car screen.

How to use Apple CarPlay

This is the fun part. Once you’re connected, you will see a home screen that looks like a bigger version of your iPhone home screen with all available or compatible apps. Also, with iOS 14, CarPlay now offers wallpaper displays instead of a solid background.

how to use apple carplay

Aside from all built-in Apple apps like Music, Maps, Podcasts, Audiobooks, and texts and phone calls, you’ll see other apps that are CarPlay-supported. That includes other navigation apps like Google Maps. You have to download apps on your phone first to use them in the car.

The iOS 14 update added new categories of apps for the first-time including parking, food delivery, and charging stations for electric vehicles. Most media apps, like Spotify synchronize seamlessly from where you left off while listening on your phone.

Using Siri with Apple CarPlay

To use Siri, there’s usually a voice control button on the steering wheel of the car. Push it and the same UI that comes up on your phone when Siri is activated will appear on the car screen. You can ask Siri for directions to a location or to compose a text to someone — just like you would on your phone.

Relocating CarPlay

Sometimes you will drop out of the CarPlay screen and end up back at the car company’s default interface. You do not need to worry, you are still connected to CarPlay if you didn’t unplug anything. You just need to find the CarPlay icon and it will take you back to the CarPlay interface.

how to use apple carplay

Powering off

Once you have arrived at your destination, it is easy to disconnect. Just turn the car off as usual and your phone will return to its usual state. Or you can unplug the USB cord. But if you need to hear the end of that podcast you were listening to, you need to keep the car on and the phone connected. Might as well take advantage of your car’s audio system.

Customize CarPlay Display

You can also customize the CarPlay display from your iPhone by simply heading over to the Settings > General > CarPlay, then In the My Car section tap on your Car name, now under Car Page, tap on Customize and drag-drop the apps accordingly.

how to use apple carplay

Apple CarPlay Features

The Interface: The interface that comes with CarPlay is pretty good. With its split-screen feature, You can have your map navigating you to a site on the main part of the screen but then on the right-hand side, you can set the interface up to see your ETA, calendar events, and even what song is playing.

Different Maps Support: Although the CarPlay has default Apple Maps, you can add Google Maps and even Waze if you don’t like Apple Maps.

Siri: All of your apps can be controlled using your voice and calling “Hey Siri”. If you press and hold the voice command button on your steering wheel or the CarPlay home button on your dashboard screen, you can ask Siri questions, or ask her to do things like play music, listen to radio stations, or navigate to a location.

Phone & Messages: You can make phone calls and send messages too.

If you have Apple’s HomeKit, you can even ask Siri to open your garage door. Siri and Apple Maps together is one of the best ways to navigate.

User-friendly: Apple CarPlay is very simple to use, even if you are new to Apple. The interface is simple, each app icon is large enough to make it easier to keep your eyes on the road. Many of the third-party apps you download are also available on the screen.

CarPlay changes in iOS 15

Focus Mode in CarPlay

With the new Focus Mode feature in iOS 15, you can now set your focus to Driving. With Driving Focus turned on, you can choose which app’s notification you would like to see while driving, and the rest all the notifications are silenced. For messages that you receive in the apps that you don’t allow, you will now be able to inform them that you are driving by setting up an auto-reply message. This is a great alternative to Do not Disturb while Driving.

Maps in CarPlay

Apple Maps has received a completely new look with iOS 15, and this change is reflected in Apple CarPlay as well. You will now get all the new maps features on CarPlay when an iPhone with iOS 15 is connected to Apple CarPlay.

These new features include unprecedented details for elevation, roads, trees, buildings, landmarks, (in easy words, 3D Maps), and more.

New Wallpapers in CarPlay

CarPlay in iOS 15 gets the new iOS 15 wallpapers as well. So, you can now change the wallpaper in Apple CarPlay from your iOS 14 wallpaper to the fresh new wallpaper of iOS 15.

Announce Messages with Siri

This feature has been slowly rolling out to more and more devices recently. First, it appeared on AirPods.

When enabled, this feature allows Siri to announce the text messages and other notifications you receive, so you can stay up to date without looking at your phone. This is way more convenient while you are driving.

It is not ideal for you to have all the messages that you receive being read aloud, and it is not surprising that Apple has a way around this as well. You will have individual controls for notifications like you can turn off the announce feature entirely, or for a conversation with a specific person or a specific app.

It is really great to see this feature coming to Apple CarPlay with iOS 15, because this will enable us to focus more on driving rather than glancing at our phone every time it vibrates.

Common FAQs related to Apple CarPlay

Most people still have doubts regarding Apple CarPlay. They search all over google to clear their doubts. We have included a list of commonly asked questions regarding Apple CarPlay so that you do not have to keep scrolling through google for queries related to your specific issue. You can clear all your queries here:

What apps can I use with Apple CarPlay?

The default iPhone apps that are compatible with CarPlay include Phone, Calendar, Music, Maps, Messages, Now Playing, Podcasts, and Audiobooks. You can also add third-party apps like WhatsApp, Waze, Amazon Music, YouTube Music, and Spotify, and more.

Is Apple CarPlay worth it?

This is the biggest question that we have been receiving a lot of times, and the answer really depends upon you. Everyone has their own preference and so the answer to this question varies for users. Some brands, including Ford and Honda, include Apple CarPlay at no cost. If you are interested in one of these vehicles, there’s no debating that this service is worth it. But if you are thinking of Add on then be sure to check Android Auto and Apple CarPlay comparison first.

What does Apple CarPlay do?

Apart from the default feature of CarPlay which is navigation, it also offers other apps and features. Apple CarPlay allows accessing supported apps that are installed on your iPhone such as Phone, Music, Messaging applications.

Is there a subscription fee for Apple CarPlay?

No, there are no monthly charges for Apple CarPlay from the Apple side. However, some car manufacturers charge for the Apple CarPlay subscription. Some cars already come with CarPlay supports and their price is included in the Car price. While on Cars with no CarPlay support by default, you need to pay extra to get it installed. BMW on other hand offers the first year as free but charges 80$/year starting the second year.

What is so good about Apple CarPlay?

There are lots of things that make Apple CarPlay so good to use, but the main reason is how easy it is to control. New technology can often be intimidating, but Apple CarPlay mirrors your own iPhone which makes it very user-friendly. This is very important as you don’t want to be distracted from driving because you are struggling to control your car’s infotainment system. Another thing that is excellent about Apple CarPlay is that it is compatible with all the apps you would ever need while driving.

Can you add Apple CarPlay to any car?

Yes, you can add CarPlay to any car. However, this is not an easy process. If you want Apple CarPlay in your vehicle, then the easiest way to do this is to buy a new car that has CarPlay support by default. You can also add CarPlay to an existing vehicle by using an aftermarket infotainment system. These are designed to replace the stock car stereo that is installed in a vehicle when it is first sold. Replacing the stereo system in a vehicle has always been a great way to update an older car, and this is also how you can add CarPlay to an existing car.

Can Apple CarPlay replace navigation?

Yes, you could replace your existing car navigation system with Apple CarPlay. Apple CarPlay comes with an excellent navigation system that moves as you drive, allowing you to follow your journey easily. People seem to prefer using their Apple CarPlay’s navigation because it is simply easier to use. One of the benefits of using Apple CarPlay for your navigation system is that it connects to the screen on your dashboard.

Conclusion

What can we say except “Apple, you have made life easier for us once again!” To connect to Apple CarPlay there are no complicated downloading or creating accounts. In a couple of steps, you are ready to start driving safely.

There are some Apple CarPlay requirements but nothing that you wouldn’t expect from similar systems. You can find a good number of apps that are supported by CarPlay, and really far more than you would ever need while driving.

We hope this Apple CarPlay guide was useful and you’re now clarified on how does CarPlay work and how to use Apple CarPlay.

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Topics Covered in this article: Apple CarPlay, What is Apple CarPlay, How to install Apple CarPlay, How to use Apple CarPlay, How to use Apple CarPlay wirelessly, How to use Apple CarPlay for free, Apple CarPlay Features, Best Features of Apple CarPlay, iOS 15 CarPlay, Apple CarPlay Requirements, Apple CarPlay Compatible phones.


Shaikh Adil
Adil is a writer at ytechb. He started caring about technology after he got his first iPhone. He likes to help others by posting tips & tricks and providing solutions regarding iOS problems. When not at work, he enjoys playing football, watching movies, watching tech videos on YouTube, listening to music and podcasts and playing video games.

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