Apple CarPlay: Answers to Common Questions

Everything you need to know about Apple moving iOS to your car

An Apple CarPlay screen is seen in a Mercedes-Benz car during the press day of the 84th International Motor Show
An Apple CarPlay screen is seen in a Mercedes-Benz car during the press day of the 84th International Motor Show. Harold Cunningham/Getty Images News/Getty Images

Last Updated: March 25, 2015

Our iOS devices, especially iPhones, spend a lot of time in the car with us. Whether it’s because we’re using them to make calls, get directions, listen to music or podcasts, or use apps (only when we’re not driving, of course), iOS devices are common travelling companions and are rapidly becoming a regular part of driving.

CarPlay (formerly known a iOS in the Car), is a feature of the iOS—the operating system for the iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad—that is designed to integrate those devices even more tightly with our cars.

Here’s what you need to know about it.

What Is CarPlay?

CarPlay is a new feature of the iOS that tightly integrates your iPhone with the in-dash display in certain cars. With this integration, the display will be able to show certain iOS apps, which you'll be able to control using an in-dash touchscreen, Siri and the car's audio system.

What Apps Does It Support?

New supported apps are added regularly (and without much announcement). A partial list of apps that currently support CarPlay includes:  

  • Apple: Maps, Music, Beats Music, Messages, Siri, Podcasts, and Phone
  • Third Party: iHeartRadio, MLB At Bat, Spotify, Stitcher, CBS Radio, Rdio, Overcast, and Umano.

Does It Support Third-Party Apps?

Yes, as noted above. It's unclear right now what criteria must be met in order for an app to include CarPlay support and whether any developer can update their app to include it or if they need to be invited by Apple to participate.

 

Does It Require an iOS Device?

Yes. In order to use CarPlay, you'll need an iPhone 5 or newer (the feature also requires a Lightning connector).

What version of the iOS does it require?

CarPlay was enabled in the iOS starting with iOS 7.1, introduced in March 2014.

What Else Does It Require?

Just having an iPhone 5 or newer running iOS 7 or higher isn't enough.

You'll also need a car that has an in-dashboard display and that supports CarPlay. CarPlay will likely be standard on some models and an option on others, so you'll have to make sure the car you want to use it in has the feature enabled.

What Car Companies Support It?

As of its June 2013 announcement, Acura, Chevrolet, Ferrari, Honda, Hyundai, Infiniti, Jaguar, Kia, Mercedes-Benz, Nissan, Opel, and Volvo have announced support for CarPlay.

The first companies that committed to sell cars with CarPlay were Ferrari, Mercedes-Benz and Volvo. Those models were scheduled to go on sale in mid-2014. Honda, Hyundai, and Jaguar were expected to follow later in 2014. However, not many cars offering CarPlay actually ended up being available in 2014. 

In March 2015, Apple CEO Tim Cook announced that 40 new car models would ship with CarPlay support in 2015. He did not detail what manufacturers or models would offer the support.

How Does This Compare to Companies Supporting Siri Eyes Free?

An earlier, car-specific feature of Siri, called Eyes Free, was supported by Audi, BMW, Chrysler, GM, Honda, Jaguar, Land Rover, Mercedes, and Toyota.

Are There Aftermarket Systems Compatible With CarPlay?

Yes. If you don't want to buy a new car to get CarPlay, you can buy aftermarket devices from Alpine and Pioneer to replace the in-dash system in your current car (though not all cars will be compatible, of course).

How Do You Connect Your Device to It?

Apple's Lightning connector. Rumor has it that iOS 8.3 will support wireless CarPlay.

How Do You Use It?

A combination of spoken commands via Siri and the in-dash display's touchscreen will be the primary means of control.

What Does It Cost?

Because CarPlay is already a feature of the iOS, the only cost for getting/using it is from car companies or aftermarket manufacturers.

When Is It Available?

It is available now in aftermarket units and as an optional add-on from some car makers.