Almost one out of every five Americans uses an iPhone these days, which means there’s a huge built-in audience out there for Apple CarPlay — an add-on to car audio receivers that syncs with your iPhone to bring Siri, hands-free calling, Maps, Music, Messages, and other features to your dashboard.
If you’re an iPhone owner, and looking to upgrade to CarPlay, here are a few things you’ll need to know:
It’s well supported: Most of the major car manufacturers will be supporting CarPlay in the future, as well as some of the leading companies in car audio and electronics. It may not be perfect out of the box, but with that much support you know it’s going to improve over time.
You’re not committing to anything long term: You’re not locked into Apple forever if your vehicle or AV receiver comes with Apple CarPlay.
The average person owns a car for about 10.5 years, but will go through up to four phones during the same period of time. While you’re carrying an iPhone around now, things might change in the future, or you might end up working somewhere that uses a different phone platform.
The good news is that the CarPlay interface actually sits on top of your AV receiver’s own operating system, and you can choose to go back to that system at any time instead of using CarPlay.
Voice control: Siri brings voice control to your vehicle for simple functions like making calls and texts. You can also use Siri to play music or set your destination using Maps. If you’re already looking to go hands-free for safety, CarPlay is an easy way to get those features.
Third party apps are coming: There aren’t many third party apps available just yet for CarPlay, but you can bet that they’re coming. Spotify is currently available, however, as well as MLB.com, CBS Radio News, and a few others. These apps do use your cell phone’s antenna to download data, so you need to be careful if your data is capped, or if there’s a potential for roaming fees.
It’s Apple: Apple does get off on the wrong foot sometimes (e.g. Maps!), but are generally very good at fixing mistakes, and supporting their platforms and products. That’s important to consider, because CarPlay does have a few minor drawbacks at launch.
One drawback is the fact that you have to plug your phone into your AV Receiver via USB. You can’t leave your phone in your pocket and connect wirelessly over Bluetooth, like other hands-free systems.
Another drawback is the fact that the apps haven’t been optimized for driving. For example, the Maps screen has a small icon for your vehicle and white background, which is distracting at night. The screen also doesn’t offer navigation aides like pinch zooming or scrolling that comes with other nav systems. Some of the buttons can also be on the small side – which is why Siri comes in handy.
The bottom line: Again, Apple and many of the major car companies are supporting the CarPlay system, and the system and apps will be updated and get better over time. If you own an iPhone and are in the market for a new AV Receiver, then it’s a great way to add features like hands-free calling, texting, GPS and music control to your vehicle.
To see CarPlay for yourself, and learn more about technologies that sync your phone with your dashboard for a more connected, more productive driving experience, drop by Extreme Audio in Mechanicsville. We have this great technology on display and ready for you to see for yourself.