Ars Technica: One week with Apple’s CarPlay

Apple’s “CarPlay seeks to combine the benefits of the in-car system — namely the big, bright touchscreen — with the design, apps, and functionality of iOS. Plug an iPhone into a supported vehicle and the stock infotainment system will go away while the iPhone beams an iOS-style interface to the car screen,” Ron Amadeo writes for Ars Technica. “From our time with CarPlay, this system appears built from the ground up for computing on the go, with an easy-to-use, safety-focused UI, a heavy emphasis on voice commands, and a sliver of the huge iOS app ecosystem.”

“CarPlay is a “casted” interface—all the processing happens on the iPhone, but it uses the car screen as an external monitor. You plug in the iPhone and tap an icon on the car’s stock infotainment system, then the infotainment system goes away and Apple’s software commandeers the screen,” Amadeo writes. “Apple’s choice to go with an icon-grid home screen screams “iOS,” and the 4×2 icon grid on an 8-inch screen results in massive icons that are dead simple to use. You end up bouncing from app to home screen to app a lot, though, which is less than ideal while driving. The faster alternative is having always-on tabs at the bottom of the screen for things like maps, phone, and media, which is the design style used by Android Auto and Ford Sync 3. That tabbed design allows you to jump from any major function to any other major function in a single tap.”

“CarPlay is a great way to get a top-shelf software experience while driving, especially when compared to the almost universally awful options from car manufacturers. It’s hard to overstate how bad most car companies are at making software. CarPlay brings competent, modern design to the car along with all your phone data, up-to-date maps, and tons of music apps. It integrates beautifully with the car, taking over the screen, steering wheel controls, and even turning down the HVAC system when issuing a voice command. The experience here is so much better than what car manufacturers ship, we have a hard time believing any iPhone owner with access to CarPlay would choose to ignore it,” Amadeo writes. “CarPlay doesn’t cover the entirety of what a car computer does, so occasionally you’ll have to leave Apple’s interface and hunt through the built-in infotainment system. The rare time we’ve had to do this was actually depressing, which is a testament to how much better CarPlay is than the stock car computer — we never want to leave.”

Tons more in the full review (including CarPlay’s current downsides) here.

MacDailyNews Take: Frequently updated, CarPlay can only get better!

Apple blocked Volkswagen from demonstrating wireless CarPlay at CES – January 8, 2016
Chrysler, Dodge, and Jeep to offer Apple’s CarPlay in vehicles – January 4, 2016
Toyota, QNX, others adopt Ford’s SmartDeviceLink platform – January 4, 2016
Which Mercedes-Benz vehicles will have Apple’s CarPlay in 2016 – December 14, 2015
Apple’s CarPlay attracting vehicle buyers GM dealers say – December 14, 2015
The Verge reviews Apple’s CarPlay: ‘Miles better than your car’s interface’ – September 4, 2015
WSJ reviews Apple CarPlay: Siri’s finally on the right road – August 18, 2015
Hands on with Apple’s CarPlay in the new Corvette – August 10, 2015
2016 Honda Accord delivers Apple CarPlay – July 24, 2015
GM to roll out Apple’s CarPlay across 14 Chevy models this year – May 27, 2015
Apple’s CarPlay success shows the power of having a long-term strategy – March 15, 2015
Apple’s real CarPlay: Cupertino doesn’t need to build cars in order to reinvent driving – February 28, 2015
Ford drops reputation-scorching Microsoft Sync, enables support for Apple’s sought-after CarPlay – December 12, 2014
Apple’s CarPlay looks like the future of in-car infotainment – April 13, 2014


  1. My car is a small runaround for city driving, it’s a few years old and not something I’m going to consider changing yet (not just to use my phone anyway), it would be cool if you could turn on the CarPlay interface for display actually on your phone when mounted in the car.

    1. I added an aftermarket pioneer 4000 NEX to my car. Initially it worked pretty well with my iPhone 6. With 6S (and pioneer firmware update) my performance has decreased with Audible and Overcast apps. Very frustrating. hopefully the built in carplay will be more solid.

    1. And shame that others (e.g. Honda) are being slow to roll out Carplay to their fleet. Only a few of their 2016 models support it, though granted their best-selling Civic is one of them.

    2. I won’t be buying a new vehicle that does not support CarPlay. Cars are far too expensive, already, without intentionally buying into obsolescence.

      I do not plan on purchasing a new car anytime soon, though. I have never kept a car for less than ten years, and generally keep them much longer. With solid maintenance, modern cars are a marvel of longevity given the harsh environments to which they are subjected.

      1. I totally agree. Still driving my model year 2000 Ford F-350 7.3 diesel, subjected to temperature extremes from -30°F to +95°F. Still rock solid. Have been looking at the CarPlay units but haven’t pulled the trigger yet.

      2. Very true. Saw a late 80s Chevy Cavalier yesterday, and despite our winters which can wreak havoc on unprotected car frames (lot of road salt for at least 4 months a year), it was in amazing condition. No rust or visible damage anywhere. And this is not some to-be-classic car that you’d normally bother looking after with care, either.

  2. Very good point they made though about having to go back to the home screen all the time to select another option surely the must have considered that. Why would they not have certain options available all the time, be it tabs or otherwise. Do voice commands generally overcome this problem anyone know?

  3. Car manufacturers are notoriously slow to update systems. Case in point, one such manufacturer, even in their 2015 models do not have CarPlay. To get that, you need to go to the 2016 MY. And they won’t even allow a software flash to update the 2015’s. They know what it takes to suck money outta you, want CarPlay? Lease or buy the new vehicle. Pathetic and ridiculous.

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