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What is Apple Carplay? How does it work?

Apple CarPlay was created to allow iPhone users to easily connect their device to their car’s infotainment system. Users can get directions, make calls, send and receive messages, and listen to music without touching their phones – helping them stay focused on the road.

[2018 update: Apple CarPlay now lets you use third-party mapping and navigation services – including Google Maps and Waze – through your car’s infotainment system. As a result, you’ll no longer be restricted to using just your iPhone’s built-in Apple Maps feature.] 

What is Apple CarPlay?

Just like Google’s Android Auto system, Apple CarPlay lets you use a selection of your phone’s functions directly through your car’s built-in infotainment system. Using either voice commands or the car’s existing touchscreen interface you can access a wide variety of apps and features that might not otherwise be available.

Apple CarPlay is often more user-friendly and faster to respond than the standard features built into many infotainment systems. As a result, it should prove less distracting on the move.

Which cars support Apple CarPlay?

The first vehicles to offer CarPlay include models from Ferrari, Mercedes-Benz, and Volvo but it’s now available on over 100 models from 21 different car brands. Apple launched a dedicated website in 2016 that lists which car makes and models support its system.

How does Apple CarPlay work?

Similar to connecting an iPod, CarPlay will sync to your iPhone via the Lightning Connector (wireless connection will be coming later). It will then pull information directly from your iPhone while simultaneously charging it.

CarPlay compatible vehicles come with a dedicated voice-control function allowing you to access a selection of features without taking you hands off the wheel. If you’d rather, you can still use traditional buttons, dials and touchscreens to interact with your iPhone.

CarPlay features

CarPlay features Siri voice control that’s been specially reconfigured for driving scenarios. Numerous apps have also been redesigned to make them easier to use while driving, helping to make CarPlay as simple and as safe to sue on the move as possible.


Siri can read and reply to your text messages for you, so you never have to look at your phone while driving. You can also use voice commands to dictate your reply, too.


Another handy feature of CarPlay is the ability to use Apple’s navigation system while driving. You can see destinations based on recent trips, find addresses from your contacts list, view traffic conditions and check your estimated time of arrival. Turn-by-turn directions appear on your car’s dashboard screen and you can use Siri to change your desired route.


CarPlay will also stream music, podcasts, audiobooks and iTunes Radio from your iPhone through your car’s stereo. It’ll even let you access music and other audio content through third-party apps such as Spotify and internet radio features. You can bring up tracks manually with built-in controls or via voice command.

Save money on your next car

See how much you can save on a new car by visiting our new car deals page. Not sure what to buy? Let our car chooser tool narrow down your search or head over to our list of cars with Android Auto if you don’t own an iPhone.

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