What is Apple Carplay? How does it work?

If you’ve looked at buying a new car recently, you might have noticed a number of models offering a system called Apple CarPlay. Like the name suggests, it’s designed to work with Apple smartphones to better integrate them with the car. Got an Android smartphone? Check out our guide to Android Auto – Google’s rivalling system.

Infotainment systems are vital equipment for many buyers and recent developments in mobile technology mean it’s harder than ever to put the phone down. Apple CarPlay lets you link your phone to your infotainment system making it easier and safer than ever to stay connected on the move.

What is Apple CarPlay?

Apple CarPlay was created to allow iPhone users to easily connect their devices to the car’s in-built display. Users can get directions, make calls, send and receive messages, and listen to music in a way that allows the user to stay focused on the road.

Users can use voice commands or the big icons on screen to call up a selection of their phone’s features. It’s more advanced than simply pairing your phone to the car because it allows certain apps to be used while on the move.

Which cars support Apple CarPlay?

It’s available on all iPhones from the iPhone 5 onwards running at least iOS 7.1. The first vehicles to offer CarPlay include models from Ferrari, Mercedes-Benz, and Volvo. Other manufacturers will also be incorporating CarPlay into their infotainment systems over time.

CarPlay has become increasingly popular so Apple launched a dedicated website in 2016 that lists which car makes and models support the standard. It’s now available in over 100 models from 21 different car brands.

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, allowing you to control and interact with your iPhone through your car in a safe manner.

The steering wheel of compatible CarPlay vehicles will have a dedicated voice-control button, though you can also use the touchscreen interface mounted in your car’s dashboard. You can also use traditional buttons and dials in the vehicle to interact with your iPhone, as well as touch and voice controls.

CarPlay features

CarPlay features Siri voice control and is specially optimised for driving scenarios. Alternatively, CarPlay also works with your car’s controls, knobs, buttons or touchscreen. The apps have also been redesigned to work while driving, so you can use them while your eyes and hands stay where they belong.


Siri can read and reply to your text messages for you, so you never have to look at your phone while driving. You can use voice commands to write out your reply without ever needing to look away from the road.


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 and view traffic conditions and your estimated time of arrival. Turn-by-turn directions appear in your car’s dashboard screen and you can use Siri to plot your route or get directions via voice commands.


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 iHeartRadio. You can bring up tracks manually with built-in controls or via voice command.

Save money on your next car

Head over to our new car deals page to find out just how much carwow could help you save. For more options, head over to our car chooser to narrow down your search.

comments powered by Disqus