Maybe it was something of a pipe dream to think that Apple could corral all the automobile manufacturers into doing the company’s bidding the way music executives did for iTunes and iPod back at the turn of the century.
Yes, Apple’s CarPlay exists in most new cars these days, so what’s not to like?
CarPlay is an Apple standard that enables a car radio or head unit to be a display and also act as a controller for an iPhone. It is available on all iPhone 5 and later with at least iOS 7.1… According to Apple’s website, all major vehicle manufacturers are partnering with CarPlay.
Again, what’s not to like? After all, CarPlay does all this and more.
CarPlay provides access to Apple apps such as Phone, Music, Apple Maps, iMessage, iBooks, and Podcasts, as well as third-party apps such as iHeartRadio, Radioplayer, At Bat, Spotify, CBS Radio, Rdio, Overcast, Audiobooks.com, and Audible
Here’s the problem. With one lone exception, CarPlay requires you to plugin your iPhone via a USB and Lightning cable. For most iPhone users with cars, that also requires a number of steps that are cumbersome to painful, hence I have yet to meet anyone who actually uses CarPlay even if they have an iPhone and a car with CarPlay installed.
What’s the problem?
The cable. iPhone users are required to pull the iPhone out from pocket, backpack, purse or bag, then plug it in. CarPlay doesn’t work over Bluetooth or Wi-Fi. It needs the aforementioned extra cable and every time it gets used, all those steps get repeated. Before and after.
The lone exception? The BMW 2017 5 Series. But there is another option. If you don’t mind the expense.
The Alpine iLX-107 in dash receiver makes CarPlay goes wireless with your iPhone.
The Alpine iLX-107 receiver is compatible with the iPhone 5 onwards, and allows CarPlay to be accessed through the touch screen as well as by Siri voice control. It then delivers the complete CarPlay experience so you are able to make voice calls, read texts, choose music and get real-time traffic updates. Although it will still depend on the particular vehicle, in many cases you should also be able to receive vehicle information too, such as park assist. The best thing is that there’s no need to connect a cable as the receiver simply connects your phone via Wi-Fi or Bluetooth.
That’s the way CarPlay should work but usually does not, even though Apple made wireless CarPlay available since iOS 9 (almost two years ago).
Our most recent vehicle has a CarPlay option and comes with a couple of built-in USB ports to make it happen. Unfortunately, CarPlay does not do much by itself, and the aforementioned issues with taking out iPhone from wherever, finding a place for it near the dash and cable, are just too much effort for anything except longer travels.
Wireless everywhere CarPlay goes- built-in Wi-Fi or Bluetooth- would go a long way toward adoption and usage. Unfortunately, that journey has just begun for carmakers.