Mobile phones are one of the most dangerous distractions for drivers.  

But they do include features - such as navigation and music apps - that some drivers want to use while they are behind the wheel. 

So, the two big mobile operating systems, Android and Apple, have both developed simplified interfaces that provide access to these features while driving, but without the need to constantly look at or touch your phone.

Here’s our easy guide to using Apple CarPlay - read our tips for using Android Auto here

What is Apple CarPlay?

Apple CarPlay enables drivers to use iPhone features such as navigation, taking calls, and listening to music, by putting them on your car's built-in display in a simple format designed to minimise distraction. 

Like Google’s Android Auto, CarPlay is displayed on compatible cars’ infotainment screens, with the aim of offering an alternative, better experience than you might get from the standard in-built system.  For example, you can use Google Maps, Apple Maps or Waze instead of a car’s standard navigation system.

You connect to Apple CarPlay using a USB cable, or wirelessly if your car supports it.

Cleverly, it works with whatever controls your car already has for its infotainment display, whether it’s a touchscreen, knobs, dials or buttons.

It uses Siri voice control, so you can ask for what you want while you're driving. For example, you can ask Siri to direct you to the nearest coffee shop if you need a break.  You can also access all content from iTunes, Apple Music, Spotify and other music apps.

Other accessible apps include a calendar app, added in a major iPhone update in September 2019, which lets you see upcoming appointments and get directions to them.

Is it safe?

Apple CarPlay is designed specifically for drivers, with just the features and functions you might need while on the road. They’re provided in a simple interface, enabling you to use voice commands as much as possible, while keeping your eyes on the road and hands on the steering wheel. 

You can go one step further and activate Do Not Disturb while driving, a feature that was made available in the recent iOS 13 update.

America’s AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety judged both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto as less distracting to drivers than built-in vehicle infotainment systems, in research published last year. However, although they are deemed as less distracting by some organisations. They are still more distracting than not using them at all.

What phone do I need?

Most iPhone users should have no problem using CarPlay. Here’s a list of compatible models:

  • iPhone XS
  • iPhone XS Max
  • iPhone XR
  • iPhone X
  • iPhone 8
  • iPhone 8 Plus
  • iPhone 7
  • iPhone 7 Plus
  • iPhone 6s
  • iPhone 6s Plus
  • iPhone 6
  • iPhone 6 Plus
  • iPhone SE
  • iPhone 5s
  • iPhone 5c
  • iPhone 5

So, if your model pre-dates iPhone 5, then it won’t work with CarPlay.

What car do I need?

To connect Apple CarPlay to your car display, you must have a compatible car model. There are now over 500 car models that support it, a number that includes almost all major car makers. You can check if your car is on the list here.

To find out more about how to stay safe on the roads, go to Solved.