What Is Apple CarPlay? Your Guide To In-Car Tech

What is Apple CarPlay and How Does Apple CarPlay Work?

As technology continues to advance rapidly, our cars are no exception and one piece of tech that is making driving more enjoyable and convenient is Apple CarPlay. But what is Apple CarPlay, and how does it work? Let’s dive in and explore this fantastic in-car infotainment system.

What is Apple CarPlay?

Apple CarPlay is an in-car infotainment system developed by Apple, allowing you to connect your iPhone to your car’s entertainment system. It integrates various iOS features and apps, such as navigation, communication, and music, right onto your car’s dashboard display. This seamless integration provides a safe and user-friendly interface for drivers to access their favourite apps while on the road.

History of Apple CarPlay

Apple CarPlay was first introduced in 2014 as an extension of iOS in the Car. Since then, it has gained widespread adoption by numerous car manufacturers and evolved over time with various updates and improvements.

Evolution over time

Since its inception, Apple CarPlay has received several updates to enhance its features and compatibility. For instance, iOS 12 brought support for third-party navigation apps like Waze and Google Maps. The introduction of wireless CarPlay support in 2015 made it even more convenient for users.


Related Reading: What Is Android Auto? Your Guide To In-Car Tech


How does Apple CarPlay work?

Apple CarPlay connects your iPhone to your car’s infotainment system through a wired or wireless connection.

Wired connection

A wired connection involves connecting your iPhone to the car’s USB port using a Lightning cable. Once connected, the CarPlay interface will appear on your car’s display.

Wireless connection

With a wireless connection, Apple CarPlay uses Bluetooth and Wi-Fi to connect your iPhone to the car’s infotainment system. This allows for a cable-free experience, but not all cars support wireless CarPlay.

Compatibility with iOS devices and cars

Apple CarPlay is compatible with iPhones running iOS 7.1 or later. However, some features may only be available on newer models. As for cars, more than 600 models from various manufacturers support CarPlay. You can check Apple’s website for a complete list of compatible vehicles.

Setting up Apple CarPlay

Setting up Apple CarPlay is simple. For a wired connection, plug your iPhone into your car’s USB port, and CarPlay should launch automatically. For a wireless connection, follow the instructions provided by your car’s manufacturer to pair your iPhone with the infotainment system. Once connected, the CarPlay interface will appear on your car’s display.

Key Features of Apple CarPlay

Apple CarPlay offers a range of features, including navigation, communication, music and audio, and third-party app support.


Apple CarPlay integrates Apple Maps into your car’s display, allowing you to search for destinations, receive turn-by-turn directions, and view traffic conditions. With the introduction of third-party app support, you can also use other navigation apps like Google Maps and Waze.


CarPlay allows you to make and receive calls, send and receive text messages, and access your contacts using Siri or the on-screen interface. It also supports popular messaging apps like WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger.

Music and Audio

Apple CarPlay integrates Apple Music, allowing you to browse and play your favourite songs, albums, and playlists. You can also access other audio apps like Spotify, Pandora, and iHeartRadio, as well as podcasts and audiobooks.

Third-Party App Support

In addition to the built-in apps, CarPlay supports a variety of third-party apps, including navigation, music, and messaging apps. This provides users with more options and flexibility in choosing their preferred services.

Siri integration

Siri, Apple’s voice assistant, is integrated into CarPlay, allowing you to perform various tasks hands-free. You can ask Siri for directions, make calls, send messages, and control music playback, among other things.

Advantages of using Apple CarPlay

There are several benefits to using Apple CarPlay, including:

  1. Improved safety: By integrating your iPhone’s features into your car’s display, CarPlay reduces the need to interact with your phone while driving, minimising distractions.
  2. Familiar interface: If you’re an iPhone user, CarPlay’s interface will be familiar and easy to use.
  3. Frequent updates: Apple regularly updates CarPlay, adding new features and improvements.
  4. Integration with Siri: The seamless integration with Siri allows for hands-free control of various tasks, enhancing safety and convenience.

Limitations of Apple CarPlay

Despite its advantages, Apple CarPlay has some limitations:

  1. Limited compatibility: While many car manufacturers support CarPlay, not all models and vehicles are compatible.
  2. Wired connection: Although wireless CarPlay is available, many vehicles still require a wired connection, which can be less convenient.
  3. Apple-centric: CarPlay only supports iPhones, leaving Android users with alternative options like Android Auto.

Alternatives to Apple CarPlay

For those who don’t use an iPhone or have a car that doesn’t support CarPlay, there are alternatives such as Android Auto (for Android users) and MirrorLink (a more universal solution).

Future of Apple CarPlay

Apple continues to invest in CarPlay, adding new features and improving existing ones. As technology evolves and more cars become connected, we can expect further enhancements and increased adoption of CarPlay.


Apple CarPlay offers a convenient and safe way for iPhone users to access their favourite apps and features while on the road. With its integration of navigation, communication, music, and third-party apps, CarPlay enhances the driving experience for many users. While there are some limitations and alternatives available, the future of CarPlay looks promising as technology continues to advance.


Related Reading: What Is The Law On Mobile Phones Whilst Driving?


Apple CarPlay Frequently Asked Questions

What is Apple CarPlay and how does it enhance your driving experience?

Apple CarPlay is an innovative in-car infotainment system that integrates your iPhone with your vehicle’s dashboard, allowing you to access and control various apps, navigation, and communication features hands-free, ensuring a safer and more enjoyable driving experience.

How can I set up Apple CarPlay in my car?

To set up Apple CarPlay, first ensure your vehicle is compatible and your iPhone runs iOS 7.1 or later. Connect your iPhone to your car using a Lightning to USB cable or wireless connection. Once connected, follow the on-screen instructions to enable CarPlay, and you’re good to go.

Which iPhone models are compatible with Apple CarPlay?

Apple CarPlay is compatible with iPhone 5 and later models, including iPhone SE, iPhone 6, iPhone 7, iPhone 8, iPhone X, iPhone XS, iPhone XR, iPhone 11, iPhone 12, and iPhone 13, running iOS 7.1 or later.

Can I use Apple CarPlay with an Android device?

Apple CarPlay is exclusive to iPhone users. However, Android users can utilise Android Auto, a similar in-car infotainment system designed specifically for Android smartphones.

Is Apple CarPlay available for all car models?

Apple CarPlay compatibility varies among car manufacturers and models. Most new cars come with CarPlay support, but it’s best to check with your car’s manufacturer or consult your owner’s manual for compatibility information.

Can I use third-party apps with Apple CarPlay?

Yes, Apple CarPlay supports various third-party apps, including popular music, podcast, and navigation apps like Spotify, Pandora, Google Maps, and Waze. App availability may vary by region and change over time.

Do I need a Wi-Fi or cellular connection to use Apple CarPlay?

While Apple CarPlay can function without a Wi-Fi or cellular connection for some features, like playing downloaded music or podcasts, other features like real-time navigation or sending messages require an active internet connection.

How can I update my Apple CarPlay to the latest version?

Apple CarPlay updates are included with iOS updates for your iPhone. To ensure you have the latest version of CarPlay, regularly update your iPhone to the newest iOS version available.

Is Apple CarPlay available in multiple languages?

Yes, Apple CarPlay supports multiple languages, including English, Spanish, French, German, Italian, Chinese, Japanese, and more. The language settings can be adjusted through your iPhone’s settings.

Is there a subscription fee for using Apple CarPlay?

Apple CarPlay is a free service offered by Apple for iPhone users. However, some third-party apps may require a subscription or in-app purchases to access additional features or content.


Related Reading: The Difference Between Apple CarPlay & Android Auto


What are your options for extended UK car warranty cover?

We don’t want to complicate this, so we’ve kept it nice and simple. Here’s three great options for mechanical breakdown or electrical failure car warranty cover, that’ll give you all you need, including cover for wear & tear.

3-Star Car Warranty

Select this option if you want affordable cover for a long list of covered components. Gives you up to £7,000 claim limit towards the cost of parts, labour and VAT for the mechanical breakdown or electrical failure of covered parts.

4-Star Car Warranty

Select this option to cover a wide range of components on your vehicle, and get up to £7,000 claim limit towards the cost of parts, labour and VAT in the event of mechanical breakdown or electrical failure, or imminent failure identified during an MOT or service.

5-Star Car Warranty

Looking for comprehensive warranty protection? Our 5-Star warranty covers an extensive range of parts and offers up to £7,000 claim limit towards the cost of parts, labour and VAT for the mechanical breakdown or electrical failure of covered parts on your vehicle.