Apple CarPlay is a software feature that enables a compatible iPhone device to connect to the infotainment system of an automobile vehicle. It is not a standalone operating system nor a specific software application but an interfacing protocol. The actual software runs on an iPhone and the infotainment system has a built-in compatibility for this standard. Hence, as an interfacing protocol similar to Google Cast and Miracast, it turns the built-in display of a vehicle into an extension of an iPhone, thus mirroring or casting several iOS content on the infotainment system. This article lists and describes the pros and cons or advantages and disadvantages of Apple CarPlay.
Pros of Apple CarPlay: Advantages and Notable Applications
1. Seamless Wired or Wireless Connection
The main feature of Apple CarPlay is that it enables the iPhone to connect to the infotainment system of a vehicle. This helps in promoting a safe and less distracted driving experience without missing important phone notifications. Connecting an iPhone to the infotainment system also allows the driver or passenger to access navigation apps such as Apple Maps and Google Maps. Most vehicles with CarPlay support allow connection via a cable while newer models allow wireless connection via Bluetooth.
2. Hands-Free Voice Command Using Siri
Furthermore, because it allows extending the functionalities of an iPhone, it also supports voice commands via Siri. The built-in speech recognition technology of Siri allows a driver or passenger to control the interface or apps using voice commands. Examples of commands include making phone calls, sending and reading texts, setting reminders, playing music, and getting directions, among others. The support for voice command means a hands-free experience that keeps drivers on the wheels and their eyes focused on the road
3. Optimized Interface and App Experience
Another notable advantage of Apple CarPlay is that the entire user interface of the extended iPhone screen is designed for minimal distraction. The apps are also larger, simpler, and easier to navigate either via voice commands, touch screen, or the buttons and knobs of the infotainment system. There is also a decent selection of apps that support this protocol. These include Apple Music and Spotify, Apple Maps and Google Maps, and other standard and popular iPhone apps such as Phone, Messages, Podcasts, and Audiobooks.
4. Ideal for Navigation or Getting Directions
The strongest and most common use case for this interfacing protocol centers on real-time navigation. It supports Apple Maps and apps from third parties such as Google Maps and Waze. These apps provide turn-by-turn directions that are displayed on the screen of the infotainment system. There is also an option to dictate the directions. Remember that these apps can also be controlled using voice commands via Siri. All of these eliminate the need to glance at the phone for guidance for a distraction-free driving experience.
Cons of Apple CarPlay: Disadvantages and Key Limitations
1. Limited to Compatible iPhone Devices
One of the main disadvantages of Apple CarPlay is that it only works with an iPhone. It does not work with other Apple devices such as an iPad or an Apple Watch. It is also important to highlight the fact that it also only works with iPhone 5 and at least iOS 7.1 or later. This protocol would not work with older iPhones and outdated versions of iOS. Another important thing to point out is that it does not work with other operating systems or platforms such as Android. Take note that Android has its own Android Auto mobile app and interfacing protocol.
2. Fewer Selection of Supported Applications
There is only a limited number of supported apps. Not all iPhone apps can be displayed or mirrored in an infotainment system that is compatible with Apple CarPlay. It also tends to be biased toward the apps and services from Apple. This is a classic Apple walled garden problem. Several supported apps from third parties have reduced features or functionalities or have different user interfaces that can confuse first-time and unacquainted users. Some have been critical of these limitations. Take note that Android Auto has more app selection.
3. Not Compatible With All Vehicle Brands
Another disadvantage of Apple CarPlay is that not all vehicle manufacturers support it. There is still a considerable selection of vehicle brands that have native support for both this protocol and Android Auto. However, in several cases, other manufacturers have their own protocols or systems for connecting smartphones with their infotainment systems. Examples of manufacturers that do not support this protocol are Tesla Motors and Wuling Motor. General Motors announced in 2023 that it would stop adding support for Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
4. Notable Hardware and Software Limitations
It is important to note that some vehicles only support wired connections. The availability of wireless connections varies across vehicle models. There are also reported instances when the wireless connection does not work. Voice command via Siri works well with Apple apps. However, for apps from third parties, it is not as exhaustive. It is also important to note that Siri suffers from limited capabilities. This virtual assistant cannot pick up voice commands from the get-go due to nuances such as pronunciation, specific intonations, or manner of speaking.
Summary: Advantages and Disadvantages of Apple CarPlay
The collective advantage of Apple CarPlay is that it promotes safe driving while enabling the use of important iPhone functions while driving. It also equips a particular vehicle with several iOS functionalities and turns its infotainment system into an extended smart device. This is similar to plugging in a smart TV console or digital media player to convert an ordinary TV set into a smart TV. However, on the flip side, the main disadvantage of Apple CarPlay centers on its critical limitations. These include limited supported apps, restricted universality, and some connection or pairing issues even with compatible iPhones and vehicles.