Apple is officially hitting the road with its new CarPlay experience. Announced at the Geneva Auto Show at the beginning of March, CarPlay integrates your iPhone with your vehicle's infotainment system. You can make calls, get directions, listen to music and more. CarPlay will give drivers a familiar iOS-like interface, instead of forcing them to learn a different UI every time they get behind the wheel of a new car.
Want to learn more? Here's all the nitty-gritty details on Apple's new in-car solution.
MORE: Best Smartphones 2014
What are the features of CarPlay?
CarPlay lets you take control of your iPhone while you're behind the wheel. It displays a modified version of the handset's home screen on the car's in-dash display. While you can't take complete control of your handset, you can use CarPlay to handle phone calls, send and receive text messages, navigate via Maps and listen to music through first- and third-party apps.
How do you connect your iPhone to CarPlay?
Pairing your iPhone with a vehicle will be as easy as plugging your Lightning cable into the phone and connecting the other end to the car's USB port. When your car detects that your iPhone has been connected, it will automatically open CarPlay. You can then choose to switch between CarPlay and your vehicle's native infotainment interface by selecting the appropriate icon from the CarPlay menu.
Which iPhones are compatible with CarPlay?
This part that will make owners of older iPhones grit their teeth in disappointment. Apple says CarPlay will work only with the iPhone 5, the iPhone 5C and iPhone 5s.
What cars will offer CarPlay integration?
CarPlay is launching on select 2014 model-year vehicles from Ferrari, Honda, Hyundai, Mercedes-Benz and Volvo. Additional automakers have committed to offer CarPlay support in future models, including BMW, Chevrolet, Ford, Jaguar, KIA, Land Rover, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Opel, PSA Peugeot Citroen, Subaru, Suzuki and Toyota.
Certain automakers may also offer aftermarket accessories to make vehicles CarPlay compatible. So far, Mercedes-Benz is the only manufacturer to indicate it is working on bringing CarPlay to older vehicles by the end of the year.
What third-party apps work with CarPlay?
Third-party apps available for CarPlay include Beats Music, iHeartRadio, Spotify and Stitcher. Apple has said it wants to allow people to use their iPhones in their cars with minimized distraction, so the company is unlikely to add any apps to that can't be used with Siri voice controls.
How is Siri integrated?
Apple's virtual assistant is featured prominently within CarPlay. Users can access Siri by pressing their vehicle's voice-control button. You can ask Siri to play music from your favorite artists, open CarPlay apps, place phone calls, send and reply to messages and look up directions. The goal is to minimize the amount of time you'll spend looking at your car's in-dash display.
Will CarPlay-enabled vehicles also support Android phones?
Thanks to the way CarPlay rides on top of a vehicle's native infotainment solution, most CarPlay-equipped vehicles will still feature Android compatibility. You'll simply have to navigate to your car's native interface to use your Android device.
When will CarPlay be available?
CarPlay equipped vehicles will begin hitting the street this year. Unfortunately, there is no specific release date for the feature, as it is dependent on each automaker's sales schedule.