What is Apple CarPlay?

What is Apple CarPlay?
In-car infotainment screens are helpful or drivers for a variety of reasons – and one of the most popular with drivers is Apple CarPlay. But what is it? And how does it work?

With over 8.4 million Brits buying an iPhone in 2023, the American tech giant has a large customer base – and for those with compliant vehicles, many can take advantage of the various great features provided by CarPlay.

This guide looks at everything you’ll need to know about the system and answers many questions that you may have.

How to set up Apple CarPlay

For the latest editions of the iPhone, you will not need to download anything from the App Store.

However, depending on the make and model of vehicle you have, there are a few steps you’ll need to take to get Apple CarPlay set up correctly.

Make sure your phone is turned on an has enough charge for you journey. In some vehicles you can plug the device in the USB slot, or even use wireless charging.

Drivers will either connect through the USB or over Bluetooth.

For those using the USB cable, there may be a specific slot labelled for users wanting to connect to CarPlay.

Once you are connected to your vehicle, go to your settings page on your device, then Wi-Fi, and ensure it is turned on.

On the same menu, tap the CarPlay Network and check that ‘Auto-Join’ is turned on.

Finally, go back to settings, then general, then CarPlay. From this menu you can select your vehicle.

If you have any issues, consult your owner’s manual. If your vehicle comes with Apple CarPlay as standard, then there will be a section in the booklet. In many cases, you will need to click the CarPlay logo on your infotainment monitor and follow the instructions.

In many cars Apple CarPlay may automatically appear on the home screen on the vehicle’s infotainment display once you are connected by either USB or Bluetooth.

How does Apple CarPlay work?

Apple CarPlay is a technology that allows drivers to connect their iPhones to their car's infotainment system.

The aim is to provide a safer and more seamless way to use a device when driving.

It works by connecting the device to the car through a USB cable or over Bluetooth.

Once connected, the infotainment display mirrors the drivers iPhone screen.

However, it is a simplified version that is easier to use when behind the wheel.

Drivers can then use compatible apps through the touchscreen or through Siri voice commands.

How to use Apple CarPlay

Drivers can use Apple CarPlay though either wireless or USB cable connection – and then using the on-board infotainment system or Siri voice commands.

If you have any questions about connecting your mobile device to Apple CarPlay, the company’s website provides a forum for any resolutions to the issues you’re facing.

For drivers who have a new vehicle, the manufacturer will be able to tell you how to use it and set it up.

And if there is still some confusion, then the owner’s manual will be able to help.

What cars have Apple CarPlay?

Apple CarPlay was available in some models as early as 2014, with many more companies using the tool from 2016. 

However, in the last few years, most of the major manufacturers have made it (and/or Android Auto) available in their newest models.

In some cases, they come as standard, and in others it is an optional extra for a higher spec model. 

Speak with the dealership when you are looking at buying your new car.

Here are some examples of popular cars that come with Apple CarPlay:

What apps can you use on Apple CarPlay?

apple carplay

Although Apple CarPlay lets you mirror what is on your device’s home screen – you will only be able to use certain apps.

The most important apps, such as the one that allows you to make and receive calls, along with Google Maps, Apple Maps and Waze are all easily accessible.

CarPlay lets you add to the in-car infotainment system by allowing you to use music streaming services for your music and podcast needs.

You can also respond to messages and WhatsApp notifications. Drivers are not able to type out messages or responses, but can have them read out to you and then dictate a message back to them through voice recognition.

Apple CarPlay not working – what can you do?

Before you panic, the most common cause for your device not connecting to the vehicle’s Apple CarPlay is due to your settings.

You’ll need to go to your settings, then screen time, and then to content and privacy restrictions.

If the restrictions are turned on, click on allowed apps and make sure that CarPlay is enabled.

However, if this still doesn’t fix the issue, then here are a few common problems and how to resolve them.

Restart your phone

Simply restart your device by switching it on and off. This often fixes many minor technical issues with mobile phones.

Remember to close all your apps beforehand to help with the reset.

Is CarPlay enabled?

If you have followed all the steps but your CarPlay still won’t work, then you may need to check your settings.

Go to general, and then select CarPlay. There will a ‘My Cars’ option where you can reconfigure the connection.

Is your Bluetooth connected?

You may have other Bluetooth-enabled devices with you. Make sure that your mobile is connected to the car.

Also, check to see if you haven’t turned the setting off.

Is your USB or phone connection faulty?

For drivers who have had the same USB for a while, the connector may get damaged. This can lead to a bad connection – or not connection at all.

Similarly, check where the USB cable connects to the device. It may need to be cleaned or fixed if the problem persists.

Check your Siri settings

If the device will not connect, it could be because of the operator settings for Siri.

The voice assistant will need to be enabled when locked for CarPlay to work. Got to settings, then Siri and search and allow it to be used when the phone is locked.

Update your device to the latest operating system

This can apply to many apps on your mobile phone. Update to the latest version of iOS to ensure that CarPlay will work in your vehicle.

How to turn off Apple CarPlay

For drivers wishing to not use CarPlay, go to settings, then general, and select CarPlay.

From here you can disconnect from a chosen vehicle by selecting ‘forget this car’.

A pop up will appear to confirm this.

Also, you can disable CarPlay by not disabling the app on the content and privacy restrictions page.

Do you have any questions about Apple CarPlay? Leave them in the comments below.

Apple CarPlay FAQs

  • Can I add Apple CarPlay to a car that doesn’t have it as standard?

    In older vehicles, this is not possible. This is due to the software and hardware in the console or infotainment unit.

    You can modify your vehicle with a new infotainment system with CarPlay enabled – however, this may be quite expensive.

  • How do I know if my car has Apple CarPlay?

    The easiest way to find out if your vehicle has CarPlay is by checking the owner’s manual and the on-board computer settings.

    You can also call the manufacturer.

  • Is Apple CarPlay safe?

    Yes, it is safe to use. It allows the driver to use some of the features on their mobile phone without taking attention away from what’s happening on the roads.

  • Can you watch Netflix on Apple CarPlay?

    No. Not only is it illegal to watch television or Netflix when driving, but also would distract a driver from what is happening in front of them.

  • What iPhone models are compatible?

    Anything after an iPhone 5 will have CarPlay enabled. Check that you have the latest version of iOS downloaded before setting up the app.

  • How to disconnect Apple CarPlay

    There is a very simple and quick way to turn off Apple CarPlay through your settings:

    1. Open your settings
    2. Click on General
    3. Then click CarPlay
    4. Select your vehicle on this menu - then tap the options and then click ‘Forget’
    5. It will ask you to confirm your decision - click ‘yes’
    6. You are now disconnected from Apple CarPlay
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