CarPlay fascinates me because it is a relatively rare example of a successful Apple software product that is not tightly integrated with the company's hardware. Of course, CarPlay runs from an iPhone, but it also relies on automaker media systems to deliver its experience to users in their cars. This lack of integration shows in cars with slower media systems; However, even though carmakers 'hardware provides a subpar experience, CarPlay's simplified but familiar interface and access to content already on users' iPhones is superior. So much so, in fact, that Apple says that CarPlay has managed to capture 90% of the new car market in the US and 75% worldwide.
I first tried CarPlay three years ago when I was renting a Honda Accord. As I wrote then, Honda's entertainment system was slow, but the experience was nonetheless transformative. Easy access to the music and podcasts I love, multiple charting options and access to hands-free messages played a big part in winning me.
When the lease was up earlier this year, CarPlay support was at the very top of the must-have list when we started looking for a new car. We wound up leasing a Nissan Altima, which has a faster entertainment system, larger touch screen and better hardware button support for navigating the CarPlay user interface. The hardware differences took a system I already loved to a new level by reducing past friction and frustrations, even though the underlying software had not changed.
Just weeks after we brought Altima home, however, Apple announced that it would update CarPlay with the release of iOS 1
Setup and settings
Activation of CarPlay is achieved in the iOS settings app. After Carplay was introduced, after connecting the car to the iPhone in Settings → General → CarPlay, you can delete apps and reorganize them with drag and drop using a virtual CarPlay interface on the iPhone. The interface was intuitive and easy to use, but required swiping back and forth between CarPlay screens as more and more app developers provided CarPlay support.
With iOS 13, instead of a virtual CarPlay user interface, the CarPlay settings include a & # 39; Customize & # 39; button that takes you to a screen that lets you delete and reorganize apps from a list that reminds you of what you see as you edit your iPhone widgets today. The new interface is not a one-to-one replication of CarPlay on your iPhone, but by using the iPhone screen area better, it is faster to set up CarPlay to your liking.
CarPlay has its own updated Settings app as well. When you tap CarPlay Settings, you will find four ways to change how CarPlay behaves. The first is Do Not Disturb While Driving. Prior to iOS 13, disruption could not be activated when connecting to your car via Bluetooth or when driving was detected. When the new iOS 13 CarPlay setting is turned on, disruption is also not activated as soon as your iPhone is connected to your car using CarPlay.
Be Not Disturb & # 39; s behavior depends on how you have the feature set up in the Settings app on your iPhone. For example, I have set it up so that contacts marked as favorites can break through Do Not Disturb. When the setting is turned on in CarPlay, people marked as favorites who text me while driving will receive a reply saying that I am unavailable until I stop, but they can bypass the feature if needed by responding with & # 39; urgent & # 39 ;. 19659010] The next control controls light and dark mode. The two options are & # 39; Automatic & # 39; and & # 39; Always dark. & # 39; Automatic change between light and dark mode depending on the light level detected in your car by your iPhone light sensor. Lighting mode is new with iOS 13, and while I can see it's a good alternative in bright sunlight, I think it's too bright for my taste. I can also see why it is not an option when it is dark outside. Light mode is so bright that it will be a distraction for the drivers. Instead, I have set CarPlay to Always Dark, which reproduces the entire interface in muted tones.
From Settings, you can also turn off Siri suggestions, which appear in the new Dashboard feature, which I will cover in more detail below. I have found that Siri suggestions are valuable and have given them back, but one benefit of turning them off is that it frees up space for CarPlay to display more 'Now playing' information in the dashboard. Instead of just illustrating, playing / pausing and jumping forward, you get track and album information, as well as a skip back button.
The final setting is another space-saving option called & # 39; Show Album Art. & # 39; The setting is turned on by default and shows album artwork to the right of track information in the CarPlay's Now Play app. Because the layout reduces the available horizontal space, track information is sometimes truncated. This is a particularly frequent release of podcast titles, often longer than a song title. Add to that the fact that titles don't scroll to reveal the full name of a song, podcast, or audiobook, and that's an argument for turning off artwork, but on balance I prefer to see the artwork.
Design  Apple's CarPlay introduces a new display called Dashboard. Earlier in my car, CarPlay-compatible apps were arranged in a 2×4 grid of icons organized on multiple screens that I could swipe between just like on an iOS device. This view is still available, but I suspect many users will use Dashboard more often because it gives clear access to more apps and information.
The best way to think of Dashboard is as a simplified widget view on an iPhone. As widgets, you can access the dashboard by swiping right from the first page of the icon view. When you swipe back, you return to the icon view.
Alternatively, you can press the button in the lower left corner of the screen to toggle between the dashboard and icon displays. If you run an app full screen in CarPlay, the same button will return you to the dashboard or icon view, depending on which one you last used. In other words, if you navigate to maps or music from the dashboard, the button returns you to the dashboard, while when you navigate to one of these apps from the icon view, the button returns you to the icon view. It's a departure from how a Home button or Home indicator works, but I like it because it lets me treat the Dashboard as the Home screen as long as I don't need to use an app that it doesn't support.  The dashboard uses a two-column layout. The first column is an Apple Maps view of your current location, or if you are navigating a location, your route. The second column is divided into three sections, except when Siri suggestions are turned off in Settings, in which case there are only two sections. At the top are suggested destinations such as parking and gas stations. I've also seen & # 39; favorite & # 39; destinations that I have saved in this section. If you are already navigating, the top section shows directions.
The middle section of the right column is reserved for what is currently displayed in the Now Playing app. Controls are limited to printable artwork that opens the associated app, a play / pause button and a skip forward button unless minor Siri suggestions that I mentioned are turned off, in which case track and album information is added as well as a back page
The last section shows Siri suggestions, which are useful to have with the other Dashboard information. For example, since running the iOS 13 beta, I've seen suggestions to open and close my garage door with the Insignia HomeKit-enabled garage door opener I installed at the beginning of the summer and upcoming calendar events from the new Calendar app that I cover below.
Each of the widgets in the Dashboard view is a mini-version of the entire CarPlay user interface for each app. Except for the Siri suggestions widget, when you need more information or functionality from one of the widgets, pressing it will take get into the associated app's full screen view.
In my use this summer, I have found that the effect of the dashboard is far greater than the sum of the parts. Each widget functionality is limited, but significantly reduces the time spent bouncing back and forth between apps, especially from Maps. Previously, if I was navigating a new place, I would keep the maps open, but found myself moving to other apps to do things like skip a song and then go back to Maps. Now I can do it without leaving the overview. It's also nice to be able to open a calendar event or other full-screen app without going back to the icon view to find it. It saves cranes, which are faster and less distracting while driving.
Apple has updated a few other UI elements as well. Siri is no longer modal and takes up the entire screen. Instead, the Siri animation appears at the bottom of the CarPlay screen, which partly hides other content, but leaves most of it legible. Notifications about things like messages and reminders also appear from the bottom of the screen instead of from the top, which puts them within range than before.
Overall, I love the dashboard. It has reduced how often I switch between apps, which is a better user experience and safer. Still, the dashboard makes me want more. I would like to treat the dashboard as an Apple Watch face and set up multiple dashboards for different occasions. For example, I do not need maps if I run short errands near my home. For those occasions, I want to replace Maps with a more complete music widget that lets me navigate through my favorite music. I'd also like to see Apple allow third-party apps to offer widgets like they do with Watch complications. That way, for example, I could replace Siri suggestions in Google Maps or Waze for Maps or a weather widget for Siri suggestions.
Through Apple's CarPlay update, the company has explored the practicalities of using iPhones in cars. , reduces friction and adds convenience. When I'm on a long trip with my iPhone connected to the car's entertainment system, I usually have a family member sitting in the passenger seat next to me. Lately, if they picked up my phone to use an app that is not available through CarPlay, it would dump CarPlay back into the icon view, disrupting navigation or whatever else I might have used.
With iOS 13, CarPlay's screen is now independent of the iPhone running it. That means I can continue to follow CarPlay navigation instructions while driving while a family member does a Google search, check my email for me, or do anything else not supported by CarPlay. It's a small change, but one that acknowledges that a CarPlay-connected iPhone should be available for more than just the driver, which is a welcome change.
When discussing apps, I will start with Calendar because it is the only brand new app from Apple available as part of CarPlay. The app is a simplified version of its iOS counterpart that shows only a handful of upcoming events. It's not a way to create new events in CarPlay. Instead, the Calendar app acts as an event view that is condensed only to show the times you've blocked. Touching an event opens the detail view showing the start and end time. If an event is associated with a location, it also appears and can be taped to open Directions in Maps.
The implementation of Calendar for CarPlay is simple but effective, and provides the important elements you need to know at a glance about upcoming appointments. Anyone who spends time driving to meetings will get a lot of value from the opportunity to watch upcoming events between this app and calendar-based Siri suggestions built into the dashboard view.
The core functionality of Maps has not changed with CarPlay, but the user interface has been significantly improved. With iOS 13, Apple has pulled off an impressive design performance. At the same time, map controls are more accessible than before and stay out of the way when not needed. This is achieved with a combination of expandable UI elements and collapses with one tap and others serving multiple purposes, depending on whether you are navigating to a place or UI that fades in the background when it is not needed. At the same time, the app remains familiar to anyone who has used it before, making the transition to the update easy.
When you are not navigating a location, Maps & # 39; UI fades into the background after a while and opens up using the car's full screen. But with a tap, returning the user interface, the car centers on the visible part of the map. In the top right corner, a tap on the location icon maps the map to your current location, oriented with the direction the car points toward the top of the map. Touch it again, and the location icon adds a small line of compass-like arrows that orient the map so that the north is always at the top of the map. Below the position button are buttons to switch between 2D and 3D map views, pan the map beyond its current limits, and zoom in and out.
The left side of the map's user interface is reserved for navigation. At the top are the favorite destinations that you have saved and that quickly get you on. Below are searches and destinations.
Search has buttons for dictating a keyword to Siri, a new keyboard user interface for typing a search, and categories of destinations such as gas stations, parking, and grocery stores. This is the first time a keyboard will perform in CarPlay. While it's not safe to type on a keyboard while driving, I think it's safe to assume that this is a tacit admission from Apple that Siri just can't handle the names of specific places. When that happens, you at least have the option to pull over and enter the search. Destinations include a list of places you have recently navigated to, as well as collections, which are destinations you can store in groups.
With Favorites, Search, and Destinations, Apple has moved functionality that was buried under layers on the Map toolbar. UI and hard to reach exactly where it is needed. When you find the place you want to navigate to, tap it and Map will give you an overview of the location if available from Yelp, an estimated time of arrival, whether tolls have to be paid along the route, a phone button to call the destination, and a large one. green "Go" button to start navigation.
When you first press "Go", the Map interface briefly displays an "ETA Only" button which mutes Siri and de-emphasizes directions when you press. The feature is not new, but it is a great example of functionality that I expect will get more use in iOS 13 because it is more prominent now.
ETA Only mode also appears from Favorites when maps expect the destination. For example, when I'm out and about and Kart expects me to go home next time, the size of the Home Favorite button increases and shows an ETA for the trip. When I press & # 39; Home & # 39; it is a big & # 39; ETA button only & # 39; just across the green & # 39; Walk & # 39; button, making it easier to choose that option. If you are already navigating using directions, you can also enter ETA Only mode by tapping the navigation prompts in the upper left of the CarPlay screen.
I love ETA mode. When I drive somewhere I know how to get there, but there is a lot of traffic, it acts as a low-key version of turn-by-turn instructions that don't interrupt you with audio signals but still let you know when you I'm going to the destination.
In the lower left corner, Map shows arrival time and time and distance to the destination. Touching the information opens a menu to search, mute navigation messages and share arrival time with contacts – similar to the feature also available on iPhone and iPad in Maps.
When you tap "Share your ETA," maps suggest that people share your arrival time with what appears to be machine learning. It is not clear how the list is ranked, but it appears to be a combination of people to whom you have recently sent text or email messages that prioritize text messages but exclude group threads.
In my testing, the suggestions have generally been solid, fluid family and friends with whom I have regular contact to the top, but it does not appear to account for their location. Although there are scenarios where you want to notify someone far away when you get somewhere, I prefer that distant friends and family are pushed down to the bottom of the list. For example, although I regularly use messages with Federico, the fact that he is in Rome significantly reduces the chances that I will share my arrival time with a local Chicago destination.
When you share ETA, your arrival time, location, route, and destination are shared until you arrive. Along the way, the person sharing your trip will receive an iMessage alert about the start of the tour, any delays and when you arrive.
The same menu search functionality drops you to the search UI available when you & # 39; do not navigate without interrupting your current trip so you can set up intermediate stops along a route. Finally, the mute button of Siri turns turn-by-answer questions, as you might expect.
Music and Now Playing
The most important update to CarPlay & # 39; s Music app is a greater emphasis on album and playlist art. The Library, For You, and Browse tabs include all small album and playlist thumbnails at the top of each view, making it quick and easy to pick out recently added or suggested music and playlists. CarPlay's use of thumbnails is not new, but at the moment the thumbnails are one level deeper in Music's views. For example, with iOS 13, the four most recently played tracks or albums and your four personal playlists will appear under For You, which is not the case with iOS 12 and earlier. Artwork also appears to the right of track information on the screen Now plays for music, podcasts and audiobooks unless Show Album Art toggle is turned off.
Now the app also has a new icon that still resembles a play button, but it is drawn using vertical red lines on a white background that look as if it is intended to indicate sound waveforms. When you are on a list of content such as the songs of an album or episodes of a podcast, the Now Playing icon in the upper-right corner of the screen has replaced the words "Now Playing" used in previous versions of CarPlay when audio is not playing. However, when audio is playing, the icon is replaced by a small waveform animation, which is an excellent visual signal that is what you press to return to the Now Playing interface.
Now Gaming has not changed, but the new design of Music makes it feel more familiar because it is similar to the Music app on iOS and the upcoming macOS Catalina app. Add to that small but meaningful change by bringing thumbnails of things that recently played tracks, albums and personal playlists to the top level of For You and Browse, and finding something to play without much tapping or scrolling feels a lot faster and easier.
Messages and Phone
The functions of Messages and Phone have not changed much, but the way you access them has changed. On iOS 12 and earlier, by tapping the Messages or Phone Icons, you went directly into modal Siri UI to read or send messages and make calls. Now users are submitted to the chronological list of messages with recent conversations and the Favorites tab in the Phone app. If you have unread messages from multiple people, the new approach means you can tap directly on the ones you want to hear and skip others. While a message is being read, CarPlay displays buttons to play and stop the sound, respond and skip. These buttons change to & # 39; Review & # 39 ;, & # 39; Change & # 39; and & # 39; Send & # 39; after you record a message to someone but haven't sent it yet. Siri is available for calls and messages from a microphone icon in the user interface of each app.
Removing Siri as a messaging intermediary has made a world of difference when it comes to sending messages while on the go. Before, I had to open Messages, tell Siri whom to send a message to, speak the message, confirm that Siri got it right, and after any changes, send it. Now I can just tap a person's name and start talking the message. The people I most likely want to message are at the top of the list in most cases because I recently sent them a message, but if they aren't, there's a new message button available to start over, and tells Siri who I am will contact.
iOS 13 adds new ways to invoke Siri in CarPlay. In previous iterations, if you pressed a dedicated steering wheel button, you had to wait for the Siri tone to be heard before speaking your command. With iOS 13, car makers will be able to use microphones that are always on to respond to Siri commands as soon as hardware buttons are pressed. It's not a feature available in my car, so I haven't been able to test it.
CarPlay also supports & # 39; Hey Siri & # 39; which I have trusted. When my iPhone is connected with a lightning cable, I instantly activate Siri with voice on the screen of my car, and that's how I send messages with the Messages app and navigate with Maps for the most part.
I have already mentioned how much I like the new Dashboard view, but the button used to invoke it hides another feature that I have not seen discussed elsewhere. When you press the Dashboard / icon view for a long time, Siri is invoked as possible with the Home button in earlier versions of CarPlay. Since it's in the lower left corner of the screen, it means that Siri is always within reach, even if you don't have a dedicated steering wheel button or always mounted microphone that can respond to commands.
Finally, at WWDC, Apple announced that third-party navigation apps and audio apps like Pandora and Waze could benefit from Siri. Although I'm on Waze beta, I haven't seen the feature tested yet, nor have I seen the feature implemented by any other app.
More to Come from Manufacturers
At WWDC, Apple also announced CarPlay support for irregular size of car screens, other independent screens for spots like between car instrument clusters, and dynamic screen size that can be adjusted to display CarPlay content along with information from other sources such as the car manufacturer's entertainment system. Manufacturers are generally slow to adopt new technology, but for vehicles released in the future, these additions to CarPlay's framework promise to give car manufacturers extra flexibility that will open new ways to implement CarPlay.
When I first tried CarPlay in 2016, I knew I would never go back to driving without it. Not only does CarPlay provide a familiar environment, but because iPhone is where my music, podcasts, and contacts live and are constantly updated, it is the perfect device for navigating, entertaining and communicating as I drive.
iOS 13, CarPlay will receive an update far beyond any of the tweaks it has received in the last five years. In apps like Maps, which received a major update, and Calendar, which are brand new, you can see CarPlay adopt a new design language much like that used on iPhone and iPad. There is less dependency on navigation bar that reduces the size of the content area, and controls are better placed to taper while driving. Finally, with Dashboard and adjustments to other apps, Apple has reduced the number of cranes needed to accomplish many tasks. There are still remnants of the old design in apps such as Music, Messages and Phone that I hope will get more complete refreshments in the future, but between Dashboard, Maps and Calendar the update has already significantly improved the CarPlay experience.
The changes in CarPlay are the kind of evolution that feels so natural that it is barely noticeable unless you go back to the old version of CarPlay, which I spent a lot of time doing for this review. For example, when listening to a podcast and navigating with Maps, for example, with Dashboard, I no longer need to switch from map to cloudy to pause a podcast while talking to someone else in the car. As I head toward my street, Siri suggests opening my garage, which I do with a quick push of the button on the dashboard from a longer distance than would work with the dedicated button in my car. I have also started using ETA mode regularly because it shows up better in iOS 13. Each one is a small change, but together they have created a much better experience for me, which I expect will be case for many drivers as they update to iOS 13 this fall and connect their iPhones to their cars for the first time.