Apple CarPlay and Android Auto can make driving safer, giving you control of many of your device’s best features
If you’ve bought or leased a new car recently, or installed a new aftermarket head unit (a.k.a. car stereo or infotainment unit) it may support Apple CarPlay and/or Android Auto. These systems are designed to give you access to many functions of your smartphone, without ever touching it, meaning safer driving. It’s like having your iPhone or Android controls in your dashboard. There are some key things you need to know when using them though. Here’s our primer.
If you’re an iPhone user, CarPlay allows for hands-free operation of basic functions of your phone. While a small number of vehicles support wireless CarPlay via Bluetooth or Wi-Fi, a majority require you to plug your device in directly through the vehicle’s USB port. Once up and running, here’s what you can do:
1. Make phone calls using Siri voice control by saying the contact or phone number you want to call. Answer an incoming call by just tapping the accept button.
2. You can have Siri read incoming messages and respond to them by voice through iMessage or WhatsApp.
3. Use your voice to search for music to play through Apple Music or turn-by-turn directions to a destination via Apple Maps.
4. Use the interface to tap and swipe through music on Spotify, Google Play Music, Tidal, Deezer, Mixcloud and Anghami, among others, without having to touch your phone.
5. Listen to radio through TuneIn, iHeartRadio or Stitcher. Or go straight to podcasts on Overcast, Downcast, Pocket Casts or Apple’s Podcasts app. Listen to audiobooks through Audiobooks.com.
Android Auto works in the same way as CarPlay in that you plug in your Android phone to use the platform on your dash screen. Wireless functionality is not available yet but could be coming later this year. Once you plug in your device, here are the top things you can do:
1. You can use Google Assistant to text with Skype contacts.
2. Send and receive text messages by voice, or communicate via WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, Telegram and other apps.
3. Use Google Maps or Waze for turn-by-turn directions to navigate to your chosen destination.
4. Stream music directly from Spotify, Google Play Music, Amazon Music, Deezer, TuneIn, iHeartRadio, Stingray Music and a number of others available through the Google Play store.
5. As an alternative, you can use Android Auto as a standalone app, free to download on Google Play. If your car doesn’t support it, it’s a nice workaround to get most of the features and integration the in-car version offers. Just mount your device in a dashboard mount.