How to Use Apple CarPlay

By Kacey Kroh, Abshier House, Abshier House

Apple CarPlay is designed so that drivers will keep their eyes on the road and their hands on the wheel. An in-car system that doesn’t run iOS, CarPlay acts as a conduit for your iPhone. This concept is now being integrated into automobiles manufactured around the world because of the hands-free safety it provides.

CarPlay is currently only available if you connect your iPhone directly into your car stereo’s USB port with a lightning cable. Apple has announced that soon CarPlay will go wireless and use either Bluetooth or WiFi-Direct protocols to sync with the car’s system.

Keep in mind that once the iPhone is connected via lightning cable, the iPhone will have a grey screen with an accessory indicator. It will not be functional until you unplug it from the car.

Once you have connected your iPhone, you may be asking yourself an important question — how the heck are you supposed to control your iPhone with your car?

Because of the wide variety of CarPlay supported car and stereo manufacturers, some cars will be equipped with a touchscreen, some will not. Some stereos will have buttons and some will have knobs. There are three main ways to control your iPhone through Apple CarPlay, and most CarPlay enabled cars will support all three methods.

  • Siri voice control

    Using Siri with CarPlay is easy. Simply press and hold the voice control button and Siri will respond. You can ask Siri to play music, provide location information and directions, launch and control CarPlay supported applications, make phone calls, listen to voicemails, read books, and read and dictate your text messages. The voice control button can often be found on the steering wheel. If your car has no buttons on the steering wheel, a secondary button should be found on the stereo.

  • Stereo touchscreen

    Most cars that support Apple CarPlay include a touchscreen. This is the most intuitive way to control your iPhone from your car’s dashboard. Simply tap and swipe to get the desired results nearly the same way you would if you were using your untethered iPhone.

  • Stereo controls (such as buttons and knobs)

    Cars that aren’t equipped with a touchscreen can be controlled by the buttons on your stereo. For example:

    • If you have a button setup, there will be an up, down, left, and right button with an OK button in the center. A Menu and Back/Home button will often be just above or below the directional buttons. Press the direction buttons to find selections and control applications. Press the OK button to make selections. Press the Menu button for additional options. Press the Back or Home button to go back a screen and again to return to the main screen.

    • If you have a knob instead, turn the knob left or right to find a selection and then depress the knob to make your choice. To go back to the Home screen, you will either double press the knob, or choose the Home or Back button.

    For the best results, consult with your car’s user manual to understand how all the buttons and knobs work in your automobile.

    There are multiple options for controlling Apple CarPlay. [Credit: Image courtesy of Apple.com]

    Credit: Image courtesy of Apple.com
    There are multiple options for controlling Apple CarPlay.

A complete list of supported automobiles and aftermarket stereos can be found on the Apple.com website. Automakers also plan to offer iOS apps to control other car features within the Apple CarPlay environment. Soon, you will be able to control the car’s climate, view performance, monitor fuel and battery levels, jam to music, and take a call or two without ever leaving CarPlay or touching your iPhone.