What Is Apple CarPlay and How Do You Use It?

Do you like instant entertainment and distraction-free access to your iPhone while driving? Thankfully, Apple’s CarPlay ticks all the boxes on your on-the-road wishlist.

Apple CarPlay is all about convenience. You can send text messages, call people, play your favorite track, or interact with your preferred apps, all without having to touch or tap anything.

But what exactly is Apple CarPlay, and how can you use it? Does your vehicle support it, and can it also work with wireless Bluetooth access? Let’s find out.

What Is Apple CarPlay?

Apple CarPlay is a smartphone integration system that lets you enjoy, control, and view certain iPhone-based apps through your car’s dashboard or infotainment system. This allows you to enjoy the latest features throughout the car’s life without having to wait on your car manufacturer to provide updates, which can sometimes take years.

Apple CarPlay has been around since 2014, and more and more manufactures are now integrating it into their car systems. In fact, more than 80% of the new cars sold in the United States support it, and it is also available for use with some aftermarket car stereos for older cars.

Needless to say, the biggest secret to CarPlay’s popularity is easy entertainment access on the road (not watching videos, of course!).

How to Use Apple CarPlay

If your car supports Apple CarPlay, using it is a breeze.

Use a lightning cable to plug your iPhone into the car’s USB port and select the CarPlay function on your car’s screen. The process of selecting CarPlay will differ slightly from car to car but will be fairly obvious. Also, it is best to use an Apple-certified cable to avoid any connection problems.

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Once CarPlay connects, your car’s dash will now act as a secondary display for your iPhone. And while the interface will seem similar to your iPhone, the controls are simplified with huge icons, touch targets, and limited options. Again, this ensures that everything is easy to access, and you don’t have to tap unnecessarily.

Now you can use your car’s existing options such as buttons, dials, touch screen, jog dial, or a touchpad to start using your CarPlay.

How to Use Siri With Apple CarPlay

When you are using Apple CarPlay, all voice command buttons get replaced by Siri, making it easy to access functions without getting distracted by typing or tapping.

Make sure Siri is enabled on your iPhone. Then to activate Siri for CarPlay, say “Hey, Siri” if that functionality is already set up on your iPhone. You can also press and hold the CarPlay home button on the infotainment screen, which looks like two rows of squares, or the CarPlay dashboard button, which looks like a square and lines.


Siri on iPhone

Some vehicles even come with a voice control button on the steering wheel. Simply pressing or pressing and holding it can also activate Siri.

You’ll see a notification on the CarPlay infotainment screen when you receive a text message, which Siri will read aloud and give you a chance to dictate a reply for transcribing. That way, you can still send a message without taking your eyes off the road.

Besides text messages, Siri can also get GPS map directions (iPhones with iOS version 12 and above integrate Google Maps and Waze into the interface), set calendar reminders, play favorite tracks from your music library, or even make a phone call.

Does Apple CarPlay Work With Bluetooth?

Who likes to plug in cables when wireless options are available? The good news is that many cars now come with Bluetooth capability for Apple CarPlay. This lets you connect to CarPlay through your Bluetooth connection instead of shuffling through an extra cable.

Certain cars come with a built-in Wi-Fi network to communicate with your iPhone. Once the initial setup is complete, you can launch CarPlay on the stereo without touching anything as it’ll pair up and start automatically every time you get inside your car.

Which iPhone and Car Models Support CarPlay?

If you are on the lookout for a new car, then be sure to check if it is compatible with Apple CarPlay.

You might also want to check which version of iOS you are running on your iPhone. Luckily, Apple CarPlay is available on all iPhone models (beginning with the iPhone 5 running iOS 7.1 or later), giving a wider set of consumers to take advantage of CarPlay.

According to Apple, more than 600 car models support the Apple CarPlay. To check if your car model is supported, go to Apple’s CarPlay page and see if your car is listed there.

Can I Use CarPlay if My Vehicle Doesn’t Support It?


apple carplay in use feature
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If you have an older vehicle that does not support Apple CarPlay, the next best option is to buy an aftermarket stereo. The most common brands that offer CarPlay compatible stereo receivers include Kenwood, Alpine, Sony, Pioneer, and JVC.

But keep in mind that even if your car is eligible for CarPlay, you might still not be able to access it. This is because sometimes there are exceptions, and eligibility doesn’t guarantee that your car will actually support CarPlay. Check with a car dealer if you run into this issue to rule out any exceptions.

Is Apple CarPlay Free?

Another great thing about Apple CarPlay is that it comes preinstalled as a free feature in new vehicles, and the only cost is your phone’s regular data plan.

However, if your car does not support CarPlay, you might need to buy an upgrade media system or an aftermarket stereo, which might add to the cost. Usually, the cost of such systems ranges from $300 to $1,000 depending on the brand, model, screen size, and offered features.


Apple CarPlay: Convenience and Entertainment at Your Fingertips

Most of us share a special bond with our phones. Thanks to Apple CarPlay, we can now stay connected to our beloved iPhones while driving on the highway, cruising through mountainous terrains, or simply taking a long drive.

Apple CarPlay’s integration into your car system goes far beyond Bluetooth, telephone, and audio connectivity. In fact, it also offers valuable iPhone functions, such as your favorite apps that we love to keep handy at all times.

So, if you want to bring the Apple world into your car without compromising your safety, then give Apple CarPlay a try. You will not regret it.


Apple CarPlay on vehicle display
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