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Wireless CarPlay: How to use Apple CarPlay wirelessly with your car

(Image credit: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP via Getty Images)

Most car infotainment systems suck. That's why the introduction of CarPlay in 2014 and Android Auto in 2015 was so important. They allowed drivers to effortlessly project content from their phone to their vehicle's head unit and speakers. Overnight, every new car on the road got a whole lot smarter.

But the frustrating thing about both solutions is that they typically require a USB cable. Sure, that might be an inconvenience we've all gotten pretty used to by now, but wouldn't it be so much easier to get on the road without having to plug in first?

Fortunately, a small but growing number of cars now support wireless CarPlay, which was first introduced in iOS 9, and uses a combination of Bluetooth and Wi-Fi to keep your iPhone connected to your ride. Luckily, setting up wireless CarPlay is pretty straightforward, but may differ depending on the make and model of your vehicle.

Here's a short explainer on how to get wireless CarPlay up and running, as well as a list of all the cars that support it.

(Image credit: Future)

How to use wireless CarPlay

Apple makes getting started with wireless CarPlay fairly simple. Just hold down your car's voice control button, and at the same time open the CarPlay screen on your iPhone, found inside Settings > General > CarPlay.

Your vehicle should show up underneath the list of available cars. If it doesn't, refer to your car's manual for guidance, as setup might slightly differ between manufacturers.  

Cars that support wireless CarPlay

While there's a good chance any car you purchase today offers at least an option for wired CarPlay, wireless CarPlay is much harder to find. There are only a handful of models that support it, even though it's been possible for four years.

  • Audi A6 (2019 and newer)
  • Audi A7 (2019 and newer)
  • Audi A8 (2019 and newer)
  • Audi Q8 (2019 and newer)
  • Audi e-tron SUV (2020 and newer)
  • BMW 5 Series (2017 and newer)
  • BMW 3 Series (2018 and newer)
  • 2019 BMW range
  • Lamborghini Urus (2017 and newer)
  • Mercedes A-Class (2018 and newer)
  • Mercedes GLE (2019 and newer)
  • 2019 Mini range
  • Toyota Supra (2020 and newer)

However, some automakers are finally starting to build in wireless CarPlay across their entire ranges. BMW was the first, introducing wireless CarPlay in its 2017 5 series, and now offering the feature in every 2019 model in its showrooms (though that comes with the caveat of subscription fee). Mini, which happens to be owned by BMW, has brought wireless CarPlay to its 2019 stable as well.

Ford has announced it will follow suit beginning next year with select vehicles that support its next-generation SYNC 4 infotainment system (that includes the Mustang Mach-E, by the way), while Mercedes-Benz is including the feature as part of its MBUX platform, which just launched in the latest A-Class compact.