CarPlay is Apple’s free standard feature—a part of the ecosystem that seamlessly integrates your car commuting with your favorite iOS apps. If you have an iPhone or car that supports the feature, you can use CarPlay without extra cost.
Connecting your iPhone with CarPlay lets you run your phone apps right on your car’s display. For example, if you want to navigate maps, listen to music on Apple Music or Spotify, or even make calls, CarPlay lets you do all that without reaching for your phone.
So, is Apple CarPlay free with no hidden charge? That’s right. However, you’ll still need to pay separately for your paid apps or subscriptions. Here’s everything you need to know about Apple CarPlay.
- What Is Apple CarPlay Free? What Does It Do?
- How to Set Up Apple CarPlay?
- Which iPhone Versions Support Apple CarPlay?
- Which Cars Support Apple CarPlay?
- Apple CarPlay – Features and Advantages
- Are There Any Downsides to Using Apple CarPlay?
- Are There Alternatives to Apple Carplay?
- Frequently Asked Questions
What Is Apple CarPlay Free? What Does It Do?
CarPlay is one of Apple’s standard features that connects your iPhone or iPad to your car’s dashboard or the infotainment system. You may want to call it an OS for your car that lets you access a number of phone apps hands-free.
Essentially, it mirrors your phone’s display and certain capabilities on your car’s onboard screen.
You can handle map navigation, calls, music, audiobooks, and similar infotainment systems through it. Besides, you can even ask Siri to assist you with tasks without looking at your iPhone.
Moreover, there’s no limit to just Apple apps. Many third-party apps can work seamlessly with CarPlay as well. This is an excellent feature to have in your car if you spend a lot of time driving.
After all, it ensures your safety on the road without compromising your access to necessary apps.
How to Set Up Apple CarPlay?
As we mentioned, setting up Apple CarPlay involves no costs, and neither does it require any complicated procedure. To set up CarPlay on your car’s dashboard, all you need is your iPhone and its lightning cable.
- First, hook your iPhone to your car’s USB port using the lightning cable.
- Then, when prompted, unlock your iPhone to get instant access to CarPlay.
All the supported app icons should now show up on the CarPlay interface. And if you want easier, hands-free control, simply say, “Hey, Siri,” to activate Siri.
Which iPhone Versions Support Apple CarPlay?
Apple CarPlay is compatible with every iPhone model released after the iPhone 5. And your iPhone must also run iOS 7.1 or newer for successful integration.
However, despite this broad support range, Apple CarPlay compatibility may still vary depending on the car model. For example, you might see functionality issues with several CarPlay features if your iOS isn’t as updated as your car requires.
Which Cars Support Apple CarPlay?
From what we found on Apple’s website, CarPlay is supported by over 800 models, covering brands from Audi to Volvo. Apple CarPlay is generally accepted in the following brands:
- Audi, BMW, Chevy, Chrysler, Dodge, Ford, and Honda models
- Hyundai, Jeep, Kia, Mercedes-Benz models
- Nissan, Subaru, Toyota, Volkswagen, and Volvo models
Yet, the actual compatibility with specific cars will still depend on the model year and country. Essentially, if your car isn’t older than the 2016 models, there’s a good chance it’s already compatible with CarPlay.
Apple CarPlay – Features and Advantages
As it basically replicates your iPhone’s interface on your car’s display, CarPlay can help you manage your tasks more safely and intuitively. Take a look at what benefits you can expect from its various features.
Switching to your car display from your iPhone screen makes navigating Apple Maps much more convenient. In particular, having hands-free access to turn-by-turn directions or traffic updates makes driving safer and more enjoyable.
It needs no telling how better things can get when you can perform your on-the-go tasks just by saying, “Hey, Siri.” From launching apps to finding places, so much can be done with Siri’s assistance when you have CarPlay With no apps to fumble with, there’s little room for distractions.
Staying connected while driving has never been simpler with CarPlay. You can just call upon Siri to make calls, receive texts, or listening to voicemails without moving your hands from the steering wheel. Besides, it also works for popular messenger apps like WhatsApp.
CarPlay also brings flexibility to your entertainment options during your drives. You can use it to access popular music streaming apps such as Apple Music, Spotify, and Pandora to listen to your favorite playlists and albums. And the same goes for podcasts and audiobooks.
Third-Party App Support
Apple doesn’t limit CarPlay functionality to its own apps; many third-party applications are supported, too, even those from Google. You can integrate most of your podcasts, news, or social media apps with it to always stay informed.
Are There Any Downsides to Using Apple CarPlay?
The benefits of Apple CarPlay are numerous, but it also comes with a few minor disadvantages, which you’d like to consider. Such as:
Dependent on iPhone
Unless your car is one of those few integrated 2023 models, you must have an iPhone to use CarPlay. This means if your phone has any issue, like poor data reception, it can downgrade your experience with CarPlay.
USB Connections Only
Although a few newer models do support CarPlay wirelessly, most cars only allow USB connections. This can be annoying if you aren’t quite a fan of wires, especially since most Android Auto systems offer wireless connectivity.
Limited Customization Options
Although CarPlay mirrors your iPhone’s interface, it doesn’t bring along the same customization options to your car’s onboard screen. For example, you can’t change your infotainment layouts or themes or add widgets as you can in some Android Auto systems.
Are There Alternatives to Apple Carplay?
When it comes to Apple CarPlay alternatives, Android Auto and MirrorLink are the most commonly mentioned. Here are their brief overviews.
It’s Apple CarPlay’s direct competitor from Google that supports smartphones running on Android 5.0 (Lollipop) or later versions.
Android Auto features a more simplified interface with larger icons and more customization options than CarPlay. And the best thing is it supports both wired and wireless connections on most car brands and models. You can check out more about its features.
Unlike CarPlay or Android Auto, which are OS-specific, MirrorLink works with various smartphone models and systems, including Android, Windows, and even the old Nokia Symbian series. It also supports different car makes and models and offers various customization options.
Frequently Asked Questions
Have you got further queries regarding Apple CarPlay? Here, we have answered a few commonly asked questions found on the internet.
Is there a way to use Apple CarPlay on older, unsupported cars?
While there’s no direct way to connect Apple CarPlay to older cars, you can still buy aftermarket head units that support it. For example, installing devices like Kenwood, Pioneer, or Alpine can add CarPlay functionality to your car.
Does CarPlay work without a data connection?
Technically, CarPlay doesn’t require a data connection to run. However, without the internet, you can’t expect to use some of its features to the fullest extent. For example, Apple Maps won’t give you real-time traffic info or turn-by-turn directions, and Siri won’t perform on-the-go commands.
Can you use Google Maps or Waze on Apple CarPlay?
Yes, you can. Among the various third-party apps supported on CarPlay are Google Maps and Waze, which you can use to find your way around. All you’ll have to do is install these apps on your iPhone before you connect it to your car.
With all the pros and cons considered, Apple CarPlay definitely stands out as a massive asset for a safer, smarter, and more enjoyable driving experience. From navigation to communication and entertainment, its feature set simplifies user interactions while avoiding distractions.
While there are limitations like non-wireless connections, with newer car models increasingly adding wireless support, this concern will likely become a thing of the past.
Yes, there indeed are alternatives like Android Auto and MirrorLink, but for iPhone users, CarPlay remains a big advantage. Its seamless integration with other Apple offerings like Siri and Apple Music facilitates an unmatched in-car experience.