Apple CarPlay – What Is It And How Does It Work? - Feature Explained

Our cars have become an essential part of our connected lives in this fast-evolving digital era. Apple’s CarPlay technology connects our smartphones to our cars, providing a smoother and more practical method to access and control apps while driving. For a smooth driving experience, we'll examine Apple CarPlay in detail in this article, showcasing its capabilities and outlining its pros and cons.

What Is Apple CarPlay

What Is Apple CarPlay?

Apple CarPlay is a smart in-car platform developed by Apple Inc. that allows iPhone users to connect their devices to compatible vehicles. It enables users to access and control various iPhone features and functions directly through the vehicle's infotainment system. By leveraging Siri, Apple's virtual assistant, CarPlay provides a safer and more convenient way to utilise apps, make calls, send messages, get directions, and more while driving. Moreover, the larger fonts and icons also make it easier and safer to access media features, calling interface and initiate navigation without even pulling the phone out of your pocket. Well, that’s if the infotainment has wireless connectivity.

How Does Apple CarPlay Work?

Apple CarPlay operates through a straightforward and user-friendly interface, ensuring minimal distractions while driving compared to most other traditional infotainment interfaces. Let's take a closer look at how it works:

iPhone Compatibility: Apple CarPlay requires an iPhone 5 or later model running iOS 7.1 or above to function properly. Ensure your iPhone is updated with the latest iOS version for optimal compatibility.

Car Compatibility: To enjoy the benefits of Apple CarPlay, your car’s touchscreen infotainment system must support CarPlay integration. Many leading car manufacturers now offer CarPlay as a built-in feature in their newer models, while others may provide aftermarket solutions to enable CarPlay compatibility in older vehicles.

What Is The Standout Feature Of Apple CarPlay?

The standout feature or highlight of Apple CarPlay is its ability to harness the power of Siri, Apple's voice-activated virtual assistant. By pressing the voice control button on your steering wheel or using the touchscreen interface, you can command Siri to perform a wide range of tasks, such as making calls, sending messages, playing music, getting directions, and more. Siri's hands-free functionality ensures a safer and more convenient driving experience.

Apple CarPlay also offers support for a growing number of compatible apps. Popular apps like Apple Maps, Apple Music, Messages, Phone, Podcasts, and more are readily available on the CarPlay interface. Additionally, third-party apps such as Google Maps, Spotify, YouTube Music, WhatsApp and Audible have integrated CarPlay functionality, expanding the range of options available to users.

What Are The Pros And Cons Of Apple CarPlay?

Using Apple CarPlay while driving is the safest way to use the functionality of your iPhone. You can operate phone functions with voice commands, steering wheel controls or your car's touchscreen. It works with many well-known apps, including WhatsApp. Additionally, you can use your iPhone's entertainment features without accessing it while driving.

However, Apple CarPlay does not support every app. Although Apple CarPlay allows users to access their apps in a safe manner, they must make sure the apps they like and use frequently are compatible. Secondly, the development of voice recognition technology is still ongoing. It is especially annoying to rectify mistakes multiple times before sending a text message using voice recognition. And last, while Apple CarPlay can help make multitasking while driving safer, it is not completely risk-free. You shouldn't use your phone at all while driving, not even with voice commands, when traffic and poor road conditions are present.

How To Setup Apple CarPlay In Car?

No separate app installation is needed for setting up CarPlay in your car. Simply connect your iPhone to your car using a Lightning cable or, in some cases, wirelessly via Bluetooth or Wi-Fi. Once connected, the CarPlay interface will automatically launch on the car's infotainment screen.

The CarPlay interface mirrors the familiar layout of your iPhone, displaying a simplified version of the home screen on the car's infotainment system. The user-friendly interface features large icons, making it easy to navigate and interact with various apps and functions while keeping your attention on the road.

What Is The Cost Of Fitting Apple CarPlay In A Car?

Most mid- and top-variants of cars sold in India, such as the Alto 800, come with a touchscreen infotainment system that supports Apple CarPlay. However, if you purchased a lower variant of a car without Apple CarPlay, you can access the benefits of Apple CarPlay by getting an aftermarket touchscreen infotainment system which supports it. Aftermarket touchscreen infotainment systems with Apple CarPlay are priced from Rs. 7,000 onwards. You can purchase these aftermarket touchscreen infotainment systems from online sellers or from your local car accessories shop. 

How To Install Apple CarPlay In An Old Car?

While adding Apple CarPlay to a brand new car might be a factory option, installing it in an older car is a different story. Here are your two main options:

  1. Aftermarket Head Unit: This is the most common approach. You'll replace your existing car stereo with a new head unit that supports Apple CarPlay. These aftermarket units come in various styles and functionalities, so research is key to find one compatible with your car and budget. Installation typically involves removing the old unit, wiring the new one, and mounting it in the dashboard. Some car stereo shops offer installation services, or you might be handy enough to tackle it yourself (with caution!).
  2. CarPlay Adapter: This is a less invasive option but might offer fewer features. CarPlay adapters connect to your existing car stereo through an AUX port or USB connection. While it allows you to use CarPlay features on your car's screen, it might not integrate as seamlessly as a full head unit replacement.

Important Note: Compatibility is crucial. Before you buy any aftermarket parts, ensure they work with your specific car model and year. Online resources and car audio specialists can help you with compatibility checks.

What Cars Come With Apple CarPlay In India?

Almost all new cars sold in India offer Apple CarPlay. Apple’s in-car infotainment interface is available right from affordable cars such as the Maruti Alto 800 VXi+ variant to B2-segment SUVs such as the Maruti Brezza and Tata Nexon all the way up to luxury cars such as the Mercedes-Benz S-Class.

Final Thoughts On Apple CarPlay

Apple CarPlay seamlessly integrates your iPhone with your vehicle's infotainment system, revolutionising the way you interact with your device while on the road. With its user-friendly interface, Siri integration, and extensive app support, CarPlay provides a safer and more convenient driving experience, allowing you to access essential functions and services without distraction. As Apple continues to enhance and expand CarPlay's capabilities, it is set to play a vital role in shaping the future of connected driving.

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Nikil Jonathan

Nikil's a huge fan of classic cars, especially Italian beauties such as the Alfa Romeo Giulia Sprint and the Iso Grifo. His love for cars and bikes originated when he first laid his eyes on a poster of the Ferrari F40 and the MV Agusta F4 when he was just a child. He also loves all things analogue, especially vintage cameras and turntables.


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