CarPlay is described by Apple as “the ultimate copilot.” CarPlay isn’t the pinnacle of technology. CarPlay is a head unit or in-dash entertainment system interface (what we used to call a car stereo). It displays some of your iPhone’s features on a dash screen, plays some of your iPhone’s sounds over your car’s speakers, and listens for Siri instructions through a car-mounted microphone. Apple CarPlay is one of their solutions that allows customers to engage with their smartphone via the touchscreen without being distracted from the physical device. The short learning curve, along with voice-activated instructions, also satisfies an increasing number of hands-free laws in many states. Drivers may use the software to answer calls, write text messages to Siri, get turn-by-turn instructions, and listen to music. Because the apps, icons, and actions are nearly identical to the phone, iPhone owners will recognize the interface immediately. Since the iPhone 5, every iPhone has been compatible with Apple CarPlay. iPads, phones with the old 30-pin connector, and iPhones with iOS versions previous to iOS 7.1 are incompatible.
There are two methods to acquire CarPlay in your vehicle: buy a car that already has a CarPlay-ready system installed, or buy an aftermarket head unit. While purchasing a new vehicle is certainly the simplest way to obtain CarPlay, it is also the most expensive—not to mention if you are not in the market for a new vehicle, it is highly impractical. In that case, just go with an aftermarket head unit. Kenwood DDX9903S is a highly recommend option these days. Pioneer and JBL are also at the forefront of aftermarket CarPlay units. However, regardless of which path you take, the overall experience will be the same. The UI is very Apple-like (of course), so switching from phone to car is a rather seamless experience. CarPlay consists primarily of the main screen with shortcuts to all presently loaded applications. The left-hand sidebar always has the “home” button, as well as apps that are running in the background that require attention, such as Maps. CarPlay is not available as a stand-alone product. The head unit will feature a USB input, and you will attach your phone to it using your own Lightning wire. On the plus side, it charges your phone. That’s quite cool. And, because CarPlay is incorporated into all modern iOS devices, there’s no need to install anything to get started—just a plugin, and you’re ready to go.
With smartphone interfaces, safety is a mixed bag. On the one hand, using voice commands to manage a smartphone is significantly less distracting than picking one up to use while driving. Indeed, text-to-voice functionality significantly decreases the need to focus on a screen. Anything that requires even a brief glance at a screen, on the other hand, takes the driver’s attention away from the road. According to AAA and other industry experts, smartphone-driven interfaces are less distracting and safer to use than holding a phone, but drivers should keep their eyes on the road at all times. Whether the Apple CarPlay will assist you in your everyday commute is determined by your level of smartphone attachment. Is listening to music a part of your everyday routine? Is texting second only to breathing in your opinion? Is your commute long enough to have a meaningful phone call? If you answered “yes” to any of those questions, it’s likely that you’ll benefit from this system. If you’re not connected to your smartphone, the native in-car system will suffice. Bluetooth’s connectivity to a phone or music player is standard in most new vehicles. That core interface still delivers more than enough functionality for many people in their hectic lifestyles.