Skip to Content

Is Apple CarPlay worth the money?

Psst! Click here for the Android version of this tip.

How long has it been since you purchased a new car? If it’s been a while, you might be surprised at some of the newer technologies that are available these days.

There really are some interesting options out there. Trunks that automatically open when your hands are full, built-in Wi-Fi hotspots and some vehicles actually do the driving for you.

One of the more common innovations found in new vehicles is a touch-screen computer display on the center console. They are “infotainment” systems that can deliver information and entertainment content.

A tool that is designed to team up with your vehicle’s infotainment system is Apple CarPlay. This is a relatively new feature, so you might not know much about it.

That’s why we’re going to give you details about Apple CarPlay and you can decide if it’s worth the upgrade.

Apple CarPlay

Apple CarPlay syncs with your iPhone so that you can safely use it in your car. Basically, CarPlay allows drivers to use certain apps through the in-dash display, rather than on the phone itself. It’s compatible with any iPhone 5 model and newer.

It’s a smarter, safer way to use your iPhone in the car. CarPlay takes the things you want to do with your gadget while driving and puts them on your vehicle’s built-in display.

You can get directions, make phone calls, send and receive messages, and listen to music. This allows you to use your iPhone while staying safe and focusing on the road.

CarPlay features Siri voice control and is designed for driving scenarios. It also works with the car’s controls, buttons, knobs, touchpad or touchscreen. Apps themselves have also been redesigned for the car, so you can use them while you’re driving.

  • Voice control – To activate Siri voice control, press and hold the voice control button on the steering wheel.
  • Touch control – If your CarPlay-equipped vehicle has a touchscreen, you can use it to control CarPlay.
  • Knobs and Controls – CarPlay also works with the knobs, dials or buttons in the car. If it controls your screen, it controls CarPlay.

Listen to your music

One of the most popular features with CarPlay is being able to listen to your own music. You can access all of your content from iTunes, your Apple Music membership, and additional audio apps using your car’s built-in controls.

Or just tell Siri what you would like to hear. You can also enjoy For You and Browse from Apple Music. Artists, songs and albums are handpicked by experts, plus selections based on your preferences show up right on your display.

Use Maps for personal navigation

CarPlay also gives you a hand with navigation. Apple Maps is now available on your dashboard. CarPlay can predict where you most likely want to go using addresses from your email, text messages, contacts and calendars.

You can search along your route for nearby gas stations, restaurants, coffee shops and more. Or simply use your voice: “Siri, where’s the closest Italian restaurant?” Maps will even estimate how long it will take you to get to your destination.

Phone calls and text messages

Make calls, return missed calls and listen to voicemail. Siri can help you do all of these things, all you have to do is ask.

Siri can also read, reply and send text messages for you, so you never have to look at your iPhone while driving. Just say, “Siri, tell Adrian I will be there in 30 minutes,” and it’s done. CarPlay can also play audio messages through the car’s speakers.

Add additional apps

CarPlay supports other apps found on your iPhone, like your favorite audio and messaging apps. Apps developed by car manufacturers are also supported, so you can control more of your car’s features without ever leaving CarPlay. You can also personalize your experience by rearranging exactly how your apps appear in CarPlay through settings on your iPhone.

Currently, there are over 200 vehicle models that support Apple CarPlay. Click here to see every vehicle it’s available with now. There are also some aftermarket stereo systems to which you can add CarPlay.

How to set up CarPlay with your iPhone

If you decide to get Apple CarPlay, you’ll need to set it up. Here are those instructions:

  • Make sure your vehicle’s stereo supports CarPlay.
  • Plug your iPhone into the CarPlay USB port. The USB port might be labeled with a CarPlay icon or a smartphone icon. If the CarPlay home screen doesn’t appear, select the CarPlay logo on your car’s display.
    • If your car supports CarPlay over a wired solution, plug your iPhone into the USB port of your car.
    • If your car supports wireless CarPlay, press and hold the Voice Control button on your steering wheel to set up CarPlay. Or make sure that your car is in wireless or Bluetooth pairing mode. Then on your iPhone, go to Settings >> General >CarPlay >Available Cars and select your car.
  • Make sure that your car is running.
  • Ask Siri for what you need. You can do this in a few different ways:
    • Touch and hold the Home button on your iPhone until Siri appears on your stereo display. Then ask what you need.
    • If your car has one, press and hold the Voice Control button on your steering wheel. Then ask what you need.

It’s that easy. Now you’re ready to begin using CarPlay.

What do you think? Does CarPlay sound like something you would find useful? Leave a comment and tell us your thoughts.

More tips you can’t miss:

How to customize your iPhone and iPad inside and out

3 ways to turn your iPhone into a professional-grade camera

Top iOS 10.3 hidden tricks to make life easy

Refer friends, earn rewards

Share your source of digital lifestyle news, tips and advice with friends and family, and you'll be on your way to earning awesome rewards!

Get started