For many people shopping for a new car, the quality of the infotainment system is an important consideration. It's something the automakers have taken on board, each scrambling to design an in-car system that will be enough to woo prospective buyers. Many, though, still struggle to produce anything that's more than merely functional. And with fragmentation between brands, these systems generally only offer a small handful of third-party integrations, falling back on native solutions for most core features, like navigation, music and messaging.
Fortunately, Apple is able to offer iPhone users a compelling alternative in the form of iPhone CarPlay, an in-car multimedia hub that lets you use many of your favorite iOS apps safely behind the wheel.
After adding Apple CarPlay, you will be able to:
For anybody with a car that is in our compatible list, Apple CarPlay could be particularly interesting, thanks to automaker's long-standing commitment to making things easier for iPhone users.
CarPlay was launched in 2014, but was based on the pre-existing "iPod Out" functionality, co-developed by Apple and automakers several years earlier. In a most of the car, iPod Out made it possible to plug an iPod into your car system and listen to your music collection through your vehicle's stereo system. At the same time, the current track or playlist could be shown on your screen, and controlling your iPod — skipping tracks, for example — could be done with your vehicle's native multimedia controls.
As iPods gave way to far more capable iPhones, Apple was able to revisit its iPod Out technology, and rebuild it with considerably more features. Rather than simply controlling music playback, the new system, dubbed CarPlay, would be able to leverage the full power of an iPhone to run a wide range of apps, including music, messaging and navigation. By creating an interface between your smartphone and your car's system, CarPlay lets you enjoy the best of both worlds: the versatility of an iPhone and its broad app ecosystem, combined with the convenience of the dashboard display and in-vehicle controls.
Though CarPlay lets you run many of the same familiar apps you might already be using on your iPhone, the system is optimized for in-car use. That means a new menu design that's better suited to use behind the wheel. CarPlay does support touchscreens in compatible vehicles, but the system works equally well with the buttons and knobs found on most cars' dashboards.
Unlike many other manufacturers, BMW also chose to implement wireless CarPlay, letting you connect your iPhone to your car without any cables. The result is a neater, clutter-free look that many BMW owners are sure to appreciate.
As most of the automakers played a key role in developing CarPlay's predecessor, iPod Out, it shouldn't come as much surprise that most of the automakers have also added Apple's latest offering to many of its cars. Since 2017, Apple CarPlay has been available in most of the car with the latest navigation systems, adding an extra layer of utility on top of its existing infotainment platform.
CarPlay is available as a factory option in most new cars. If your vehicle doesn't have CarPlay but you'd like to add it, you have the following retrofit option.
For older vehicles that aren't officially supported, it's also possible to add LEADSIGN CarPlay (aftermarket unit required). Unlike BMW's own implementation, many third-party Apple CarPlay retrofits rely on a wired connection, meaning not having a WiFi antenna won't be a problem. Although wireless aftermarket CarPlay is also available on the market, the presence of a factory BMW WiFi antenna is also not an issue.
Whether a third-party CarPlay module will work in your BMW, and what features will be available to you, depends on the exact product. LEADSIGN CARPLAY INTERFACE retrofit does not require any specific package, making it a great choice for a wide variety of vehicles. Unlike many other units available, LEADSIGNAUTO's is designed to integrate perfectly with your car, letting you use the factory screen, buttons and controllers when using CarPlay. Just like the OEM solution, it also supports a wireless connection.
Though CarPlay apps are shown on your car's built-in display and can be interacted with using the steering wheel and console controls, the apps themselves are still being run on your iPhone. That means CarPlay isn't a standalone system; it requires an iOS device to be connected to your car at all times.
On many systems, this calls for a wired connection, with the iPhone being plugged into one of the vehicle's USB ports throughout use. However, CarPlay does support wireless connections, which some manufacturers — BMW among them — have taken advantage of. In a BMW with CarPlay from the factory, it's enough to activate Bluetooth on your iPhone, hold the voice-command button on the steering wheel and navigate to Settings > General > CarPlay on your iPhone to pair the two.
With your car and iPhone paired, the native radio system menu will be replaced with CarPlay's alternative, showing all your available apps as iOS-like icons spread across the screen. Navigating the menu is no different from using car's own system, meaning you can use the original controller to switch between options — or, in vehicles fitted with a touchscreen, just tap the app you want to use. What's more, the voice-control button on the steering wheel can be used to summon Siri, letting you ask for directions, dictate messages or ask for music, just as you would on an iPhone.
To use an app through CarPlay, it first has to be installed on your iPhone, but that doesn't mean every app on your phone is going to be available on CarPlay. First up, CarPlay only supports apps you're likely to use when driving: navigation, messaging and audio, including music, radio, and podcasts. That covers popular preinstalled apps like Apple Maps, iMessage and Apple Music, as well as third-party offerings, like Google Maps, Audible and Overcast. Outside of those three categories, Apple has also allowed manufacturers to include their own, vehicle-specific app.
The app developer also has to enable their app for CarPlay, in part by providing an alternative interface that's better suited to use in a car. Major apps like Waze, Spotify and WhatsApp have done that, but if you use something a little more niche, you might not be able to access it through CarPlay. And even if it's available, the functionality might be limited; Facebook Messenger launched with support for receiving voice calls through CarPlay, but doesn't allow making calls or messaging. If you aren't sure whether your favorite app is supported, it's a good idea to contact the developer for clarification.
As of January 2020, CarPlay apps include:
Apple is adding new apps app the time, so to check the latest app lineup, please check the official CarPlay website.https://www.apple.com/ios/carplay/
CarPlay is only designed to work with navigation, audio and messaging apps. At present, there are no known plans to add other app categories to CarPlay. That means that if you want to use other kinds of apps in your car—letting your passengers watch videos, for example—CarPlay might not be the right choice for you.
However, LEADSIGNAUTO offers a number of innovative solutions designed to get more of your favorite apps into your car. Our CarPlay Interface, apart from standard CarPlay functionality, also includes a screen mirroring feature (iOS AirPlay in the main menu). You can cast your smartphone’s display, making it possible to use non-CarPlay apps on the screen!
Unfortunately, it can’t because CarPlay doesn’t support any VOD apps. The DRM technology in most video streaming apps also blocks use with screen mirroring. You can cast the YouTube app from your iPhone though, using the iOS AirPlay connection to our CarPlay Interface.
Like an iPhone, CarPlay also gives you the option to reorder the apps on the home screen, move the icons between pages or delete them entirely. That way you can always make sure you have easy access to the apps you regularly use in your car and don't have your screen cluttered up with extra apps you don't need.
Instead of configuring CarPlay in your car, everything is done on your iPhone, in Settings > General > CarPlay. There you have the option of drag-and-dropping icons across screens to define the arrangement you'll have next time you use CarPlay in your vehicle. Tapping the minus icon on each app will remove it from CarPlay entirely. On the same screen, you're also able to decide whether or not it will be possible to use CarPlay when your iPhone is locked.
As your CarPlay preferences are stored on your iPhone, not your car, each person who drives your car can even set everything up totally differently and access their unique configuration by connecting their phone. If you're already using custom driver profiles for each car key fob, CarPlay is going to fit right in.
Depending on your CarPlay system and the size of your vehicle's screen, CarPlay will be able to display eight or ten icons per screen. Due to this variation, anybody who drives several vehicles will have to configure CarPlay individually for each of them. The CarPlay settings page on your iPhone will show all the cars you've connected your iPhone to, and let you set up a unique menu arrangement for each. This could come in handy for anybody with a personal and company car, or a family car for the week and something sporty for the weekend. CarPlay lets you adjust the default menu on a car-by-car basis to prioritize the apps you're most likely to use at different moments in your life: messaging apps in your company car and entertainment for family outings.
When buying a new BMW, all the optional extras are going to cost you, and CarPlay is no different. At launch in 2017, CarPlay ran to $300 in the US, roughly in line with other infotainment options.
It was, but since release, BMW has taken another look at the way it offers CarPlay. In an industry first, BMW initially decided to make CarPlay available as a subscription service, including it free for a year in new cars and charging $80/year after that. BMW's argument was that Apple CarPlay subscription could turn out better for the consumer, particularly anybody who leases; it would have been five years before the total cost of the subscription had passed the old $300 upfront cost, so over the course of a typical three-year lease, you were going to be $140 up.
Buyers in the new and used markets weren’t quite so lucky. The longer they planned to hold on to the car, the greater the premium they were going to end up paying for BMW CarPlay subscription, and without the first year coming free, the cost would creep up that little bit quicker. It's clear why BMW's decision to shift to a subscription model came with its share of detractors, and why the manufacturer introduced more changes into Apple CarPlay subscription price.
In December 2019, the German automaker announced that it had decided to ditch its Apple CarPlay subscription model. 2019/2020 BMW vehicles with the latest infotainment system (iDrive 7.0) won’t be charged for CarPlay, meaning that those still in their free first year will have the software subscription automatically renewed. Eligible BMW owners who had BMW Apple CarPlay subscription but canceled it will also have the opportunity to renew it for free. As for cars with Apple CarPlay that has already been paid for, it’s not known whether there will be any reimbursement or not.
This CarPlay model will be introduced first in the UK, USA and Australia, and after successful implementation, in other regions.
Yes, and no. Owners of BMW vehicles with iDrive 6.0 and lower infotainment systems will still be charged a one-time fee of $300. In addition, the roll-out of the new CarPlay payment model might take a while before it reaches all countries, so the BMW Apple CarPlay subscription fee might stay for a bit longer.
If you prefer paying a set fee up-front right now instead of still being saddled with an annual charge, a third-party CarPlay interface retrofit, such as LEADSIGNAUTO's, can activate CarPlay in your car without the subscription cost.
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