When I was looking for a new vehicle last year, there was one option I wanted to have: Apple CarPlay. Being able to integrate the screen from my iPhone to my Volkswagen’s infotainment system sounded like a brilliant idea! Now living with both my car and Apple CarPlay on a daily basis, I can give some of my opinions on how it has been.
Initiating CarPlay is quite easy. All you have to do is plug in your iPhone into your USB and it will show you the standard screen. Once you see the screen, you’ll have some useful features at your fingertips. Choosing your music and interacting with both text messaging and phone calls all go through Siri. You can manually choose your songs, choose the person you want to send a phone call or message to or respond to a phone call or message. This makes the vehicle a true hands-free car. Text messages are read to you via Siri and when you respond to a text message, she checks what you said is what you want to send before you send the text message. This all sounds good, right? Well, it’s not a bad piece of software. But there is one massive problem.
Siri. There have been times when someone would text me and Siri would decide not to have a connection when I would try to respond. Although I had full connection with my phone, CarPlay would think there was no connection available. Clicking on the text message a few times would finally let me listen and respond to the text message. Other times, I would connect my iPhone with my designated Apple cable and CarPlay would not initiate at all. At one point, I had to pull over and turn off the car to have it work again. One word of advice when you are using CarPlay and texting: keep Siri to American English. I had her in Australian English when I first bought my car and she would constantly send out a text message with the wrong words. Certain words and phrases also can’t get picked up with the speech-to-text so I would redo my entire sentence.
Going back to apps, there are a few that you can get outside of Maps, Phone, Message, and Music. If you have subscriptions or downloaded apps such as Audible, Pandora, and Amazon Music, you can listen to various podcasts and music. The downside about the stock apps you have is there is no way of using third-party apps for maps, so you have to use Apple's Maps. For Maps, I found that typing in the destination in my phone then letting CarPlay launch Maps to start route guidance. For a list of all the apps you can download, visit the official Apple CarPlay page here: https://www.apple.com/ios/carplay/.
So is Apple CarPlay what I was expecting? In terms of reliability, no. Even if I’m driving through a location with good signal, Siri may not work. The design is sleek and familiar to anyone that uses an iPhone. I do recommend anyone to at least try Apple CarPlay before deciding if they want to have it in their vehicle.