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What is Apple CarPlay & How to Use It

What is Apple CarPlay & How to Use It

If you own an iPhone and a car, but you haven’t heard of Apple CarPlay, you are missing a great hands-free connectivity opportunity! With the help of an easy to use interface, fast connectivity to your phone and a host of valuable features, Apple CarPlay acts as the ultimate co-pilot for any journey.

What is CarPlay?

Apple CarPlay is a system that allows you to connect your phone to your vehicle with ease. You can view content from your iPhone on your car’s infotainment screen, as well as make calls, listen to music, use sat-nav and dictate text messages, all without taking your hands off the wheel.

Essentially, Apple CarPlay is a piece of software that is installed into the entertainment unit of your vehicle, and allows the vehicle to act as a controller for your phone. Many cars, including the MG3, MG ZS, MG ZS EV and MG HS, offer Apple CarPlay as a standard or optional extra so you can simply plug your phone in and start using it straight away. With some older vehicles, however, you may have to upgrade or have a system installed for Apple CarPlay to be added.

How Does Apple CarPlay Work?

Once you have plugged in your iPhone using a USB or connected to your vehicle via Bluetooth, you will be taken through a very simple set-up process. If Apple CarPlay doesn’t begin automatically, tap the CarPlay icon on your infotainment screen. The first time you use it, you will see a message on your display to unlock your iPhone. Simply approve the prompt on your phone, then you’re connected and you’ll see app icons similar to iOS on your car display. If you have more than eight apps, you will need to swipe across the screen to access the second page. You can rearrange the app display by visiting Settings > General > CarPlay on your iPhone and tapping your car’s name.

For most apps on Apple CarPlay, functionality will be reduced or amended so that this suits the car environment and avoids distractions for the driver where possible. For example, opening a conversation in the Messages app will read the latest message aloud, rather than display it on screen. You will also need to dictate your response using Siri, as there is no keyboard available in CarPlay. Some apps will also further disable functionality when the car is in gear versus when it is in neutral.

Drivers can control Apple CarPlay in the same way as they would the car’s own entertainment system, using the regular buttons, dials and touchscreen. As well as this, Apple’s voice command service, Siri, allows drivers to use voice commands, including dictating instructions, setting reminders and writing text messages.

As well as Apple’s own phone apps that come as standard, third-party Apple CarPlay apps including Spotify, WhatsApp, BBC Sounds and Google Maps are currently supported. A full list can be found here.

To return to your car’s stock system, tap its icon in Apple CarPlay’s list. CarPlay doesn’t manage radio stations, climate control, or other features of your car’s built-in dashboard, so you’ll need to change back to the standard system to perform those functions.

Will my phone support Apple CarPlay?

Apple CarPlay is available on any iPhone which comes with a ‘lightning’ charging cable. That means the following phones can use the service:

  • iPhone SE
  • iPhone 5
  • iPhone 5C
  • iPhone 5S
  • iPhone 6
  • iPhone 6 Plus
  • iPhone 6S
  • iPhone 6S Plus
  • iPhone 7
  • iPhone 7 Plus
  • iPhone 8
  • iPhone 8 Plus
  • iPhone X

You can also expect future versions of the iPhone to support Apple CarPlay too. To use Apple CarPlay, your iPhone must also be running the iOS 7 operation system or newer.

Alternative Options

There are two main systems for connecting phones to vehicles for on-screen connectivity. Apple CarPlay is perhaps the most well-known, and works exclusively with Apple iPhones devices. Owners of phones using the Android system have a similar service named Android Auto. Android Auto offers very similar functionality to Apple CarPlay, including navigation, audio and messaging elements, and was launched in 2014. You can find out more about Android Auto here.

Want more information on the technology featured in our vehicles? Take a look at our full list of articles to find even more useful tips about in-car technology and our range.

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