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Apple CarPlay: 5 smart tips and tricks you should try

If you drive one of the over 600 models that support Apple’s CarPlay, you should be familiar with what its technology can do. From providing turn-by-turn navigation or viewing your day’s calendar, it can be an extension of your office on the road.

But did you know that Apple has added more functionality with the latest iOS update? By simply using your voice or your Apple Watch, you can keep your eyes on the road and information at your fingertips. Tap or click here for the 10 best features on your new Apple Watch.

While you may already know how cool Apple CarPlay can be, you most likely aren’t using all the helpful features that it comes with. Let’s take a look at five new tools available with CarPlay.

Customize the CarPlay screen

Just as you decided on your vehicle’s color and trim, you can also customize your CarPlay screen. Want a new wallpaper to compliment the car’s interior design? You can do that now with iOS14. Here’s how:

Open Settings in CarPlay using your vehicle’s built-in controls, select Wallpaper, then choose one of the available options.

You can also display album art of the music that you are listing to. To do this, go to Settings in CarPlay, then turn Show Album Art off or on.

RELATED: Can you trust Apple’s new app privacy labels? One report says no

CarPlay is set to a dark appearance by default in most vehicles. If you prefer to have CarPlay automatically switch between dark and light appearance, do the following:

  • Open Settings in CarPlay using your vehicle’s built-in controls
  • Select Appearance
  • Select Always Dark

The dark appearance is optimized for viewing in low-light environments, such as at night.

Send voice messages

CarPlay comes with a built-in hands-free kit so you can send voice messages through Siri without your hands leaving the steering wheel. Use CarPlay to send, hear and reply to text messages from your iPhone.

Here’s how to Ask Siri. Say things like:

  • Text my wife
  • Text Kim that I’m stuck in traffic and I’ll be 15 minutes late for the meeting
  • Read my text messages

Change the default navigation app

Apple’s Maps navigation has had a bit of a spotty past, so if you want to change it to something else, you can do that. Just a word of caution, if you decide to move away from Apple Maps, you will lose some CarPlay functionality.

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Late last year, Google updated Google Maps to work with CarPlay. You will now be able to use Google Maps while still having music controls or your calendar in the split-screen view. To change from Apple Maps to another service:

  • Open Settings on your iOS device
  • Tap General and then CarPlay
  • Choose your vehicle from the list
  • Tap and hold on your preferred navigation app and move it to the Home screen

CarPlay currently supports Google Maps, KakaoNavi, Navitimem, Sygic, TomTom and Waze.

Start your car with your iPhone

A decade ago, it would have seemed like magic, but Apple allows you to unlock and start your car with your iPhone or Apple Watch. If more people need access to the car, you can also share your digital keys with them.

The functionality only works with compatible cars, and you would need to add your keys through the manufacturer’s app first. Once you have done that, here is how you can add it to your Apple Watch:

  • Add car keys to the Wallet app on your iPhone
  • Open the Watch app on your iPhone
  • In the My Watch tab, scroll down and tap Wallet & Apple Pay
  • Tap Add next to the card for your car key

Apple has a page dedicated to setting up your iPhone or Apple Watch to use as a car key. You’ll find all the instructions needed here.

Add support for more apps

With the latest iOS 14 update, Apple has added support for a wealth of other apps. You will now be able to use some of the most popular apps you previously couldn’t, like Overcast and Audible.

CarPlay support has now been added for:

  • News+
  • Line
  • iHeartRadio
  • Tidal
  • At Bat
  • Stitcher
  • CBS Radio
  • Pandora
  • NPR One
  • Amazon Music
  • Google Play Music
  • SiriusXM Radio

Those are just a few CarPlay upgrades that were recently added. Apple is constantly updating its features, so it’s a good idea to stay on top of them so you can take advantage of everything CarPlay has to offer. We’ll keep you updated with new features as they are added.

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