Guide to Apple CarPlay
28 September 2016
Author: Daniel Puddicombe
These days, fleet drivers demand their own music, access to their phone book and a whole lot more besides, whenever they're on the move.
At the forefront of in-car technology is Apple with its CarPlay software, which allows users to connect their iPhones to the vehicle's media system.
What is Apple CarPlay?
While it has been possible to connect smartphones to cars for a number of years now, CarPlay is slightly different as your iPhone screen is replicated into the cars media system, allowing you to use it, and a number of apps, while on the move.
It's worth bearing in mind that you can only use apps and programmes downloaded onto your phone.
iPhones are connected to the car via the firm's 'lightning cable', so it is no different than charging it normally.
For safety reasons, games usually cannot be used while the iPhone is connected to the car, and certain apps, such as the weather app, doesn't support the technology either.
What can CarPlay do?
Apple CarPlay is centred around Siri, the firm's assistant function, which will help with a number of things including accessing contacts, making calls, listening to voicemail and writing texts - all without having to take your hands off the wheel.
"When incoming messages or notifications arrive, Siri provides an eyes-free experience by responding to requests through voice commands, by reading drivers' messages and letting them dictate responses or simply make a call," the technology giant says.
CarPlay also allows you to access your music library and apps like Spotify while on the move. It is possible to bring up specific songs and podcasts through the media system or via voice commands.
Most importantly for some, CarPlay integrates Apple's mapping service and will allow you to see destinations based on recent journeys, addresses pulled from text message conversations, and it will also offer turn-by-turn directions onto the media screen, while iOS10-enabled iPhones automatically detect when the phone leaves the car and automatically resumes the journey once returned.
What cars support Apple CarPlay?
Apple claims on its website that more than 100 models are compatible with the system and it isn't just big, expensive and fast cars that it comes with too - for instance, the Suzuki Baleno has it fitted and Hyundai's forthcoming i10 supermini will have it fitted as standard too.
Costs vary from car-to-car, with CarPlay being included as standard with some, while a few manufacturers offer the software as a cost option.
Volvo, for instance, charges between £250 and £300 for the addition on its XC90 SUV, while Vauxhall charges £1000 for the upgrade for its Insignia model, though the package also includes the firm's innovative OnStar personal assistant.
Kia, meanwhile, announced earlier this year that all its models, within 18 months, will feature CarPlay as standard.
There is also an option to retrofit Apple CarPlay to existing vehicles, with Alpine and Pioneer selling stereos for around £330.
Apple CarPlay: The drawbacks?
Although it sounds like CarPlay replaces the car's integrated media system, that's not actually the case. In most instances, CarPlay is an option within the media system - so if you want to adjust the temperature of the vehicle, or access the reversing camera, you will need to go backwards and forwards between CarPlay and the car's standard interface, and that could prove to be an irritation among some drivers.
The other drawback is that only around 100 cars are available with the system at present, although that figure is rapidly rising, so in the coming months and years, expect to see (and hear) a lot more about CarPlay as it gains mass-market appeal.