Last Updated: April 17, 2014
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?
The full list of supported apps hasn't been revealed yet, but Apple has shown CarPlay using Maps, Music, Messages, Siri, Podcasts, and Phone.
Does it support third-party apps?
Relatively few specific details about that have been released, but a few third-party apps have been announced as supported, including Beats Music, Stitcher, Spotify, and iheartradio.
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 is a new feature introduced with iOS 7, so it's safe to assume you'll need iOS 7 or higher to use it. It hasn't been enabled in iOS 7 as of this writing (March 2014), so expect it to arrive in an update.
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. It seems likely that CarPlay will 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 iOS in the Car.
The first companies that will sell cars with CarPlay will be Ferrari, Mercedes-Benz and Volvo. Those models will go on sale in 2014. Honda, Hyundai, and Jaguar will follow later this year.
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 to replace the in-dash system in your current car (though not all cars will be compatible, of course). The first of these devices will be available from Alpine and Pioneer, starting in summer 2014.
How do you connect your device to it?
Apple's Lightning connector.
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?
No pricing details have been released as of this writing. However, because CarPlay is already a feature of the iOS, it seems likely that the primary, and perhaps only, cost will be from car companies.
When is it available?
The first cars offering CarPlay will be out in the next few months, with more cars from more companies to follow.