CarPlay FAQ: Everything you need to know about Apple’s automotive dashboard software

With very few exceptions, the navigation and entertainment software running on the dashboard touchscreens for modern cars is awful. Dated interface design, confusing layouts, and rarely-if-ever updated software and data.

Fortunately, Apple has a fix for that: CarPlay. It’s a built-in feature that turns your iPhone into the brains and interface for your car’s infotainment display, and it’s a huge step up from what you get in most cars.

Originally launched in 2014, CarPlay is now supported on a wide variety of vehicles. Here’s what you need to know about CarPlay, its supported devices and vehicles, and supported apps.

How does CarPlay work?

Using CarPlay on a supported car is easy. Just use your Lightning cable to plug your iPhone into the car’s USB port and select the CarPlay function on your car’s screen. The exact method of selecting CarPlay differs from one car to the next, but it’s usually fairly obvious.

A very small number of cars even have wireless CarPlay, which allows you to pair your phone and use CarPlay without plugging in a cord at all.

Once CarPlay has started in your car, the interface on your infotainment system will be controlled by your iPhone—it’s essentially a secondary phone display. The interface will feel familiar to iPhone users, but it’s dramatically simplified, with big icons, touch targets, and very limited options. After all, it’s meant to be used while driving, so everything is large, simple, and requires very few taps.

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CarPlay gives you large, simplified interfaces for audio, messaging, and navigation apps.

CarPlay gives you access to select messaging apps, audio apps, and navigation apps. It can read text messages aloud and transcribe your voice into text replies, which is a lot safer than texting while driving.

The latest CarPlay interface also suggests things for you based on the time, day, and your location—playlists or podcasts you often listen to, or directions to places you usually drive, for example.