How to use Apple CarPlay

Apple CarPlay brings many convenience and entertainment features to your vehicle’s infotainment screen. CarPlay can add navigation and music streaming to vehicles that do not have the features, but a completely new interface in your dashboard can be intimidating and confusing. It’s best to try out the new features and controls when your vehicle is parked so that you can familiarize yourself with the system before trying to use it while in motion.

The good news is that CarPlay is very easy to set up and use. Let’s take a look.

Further Reading

Connecting to Apple CarPlay

If your vehicle’s infotainment system has the ability to run Apple CarPlay, getting started is easy. For wired Apple CarPlay setup:

  • Start your vehicle and make sure that Siri is turned on in your iPhone’s Settings.
  • Connect your iPhone to the vehicle via a USB cable. Your vehicle may have several USB ports, so read the owner’s manual to find out which one you should use for CarPlay.
  • Your infotainment screen should display a message asking if you would like to enable CarPlay, and a similar message may appear on your iPhone as well. This will enable you to use CarPlay while your phone is locked and stored safely in the vehicle.

That’s it for setting up a wired connection, but there may be a few extra steps required in some cases. Depending on your vehicle, the infotainment system may require you to enable CarPlay in a settings menu. Some systems have Apple CarPlay and Android Auto turned off by default, but the process to enable the services is usually quick and painless.

If your vehicle supports wireless Apple CarPlay, you will need to make sure that Bluetooth is enabled on both your iPhone and in the infotainment system. On your iPhone, go to Settings > General > CarPlay and tap Available Cars. Your vehicle should be listed there. If you do not see your vehicle, try turning Bluetooth off and then back on again, and consult your owner’s manual to find out if there are additional steps required. In some cases, you’ll need to use the vehicle’s voice commands or other settings to enable wireless Apple CarPlay.

Controlling Apple CarPlay

Once you’re connected, your vehicle’s infotainment screen should change over to the CarPlay interface, which looks an awful lot like your phone’s home screen turned sideways. In most vehicles, the screen is touch-enabled, which means that controlling CarPlay works just like controlling your iPhone. Swipes and taps will work to navigate through the system, but many screens are not multi-touch enabled, so you won’t be able to pinch-to-zoom or use the same gestures that work on your iPhone.

Depending on your vehicle, you may have the option to use Siri and voice commands to control CarPlay. You can also use the CarPlay interface to do the same. To use the feature:

  • To use your vehicle’s voice commands, press and hold the Voice Command button on your steering wheel. You should hear the familiar “ding ding” of Siri to let you know that you can ask a question.
  • To use the CarPlay interface, touch and hold the Home button on the screen. You should hear Siri’s sounds, and the screen should change. You should then be able to ask a question or have Siri do something.

Configuring the home screen

Just like on your phone, you can move and delete apps to configure the home screen to your liking. If you would like to rearrange apps, head to your iPhone’s settings menu:

  • Select General >Apple CarPlay.
  • Select your vehicle and tap Customize.
  • You can use the + or – buttons to add or remove apps.
  • To change the order of apps on your home screen, drag items up and down in the list.

When you reconnect your phone to your vehicle, CarPlay should display the new order of apps that you have configured.

Apple CarPlay is very simple to set up and use, but there are times when things don’t work as expected. In these cases, you have a few options. You can troubleshoot by performing basic actions such as unplugging and re-plugging the iPhone, turning off your vehicle and turning it back on, checking settings, and more. Apple offers several resources to help you, located here. Keep in mind that some issues may require assistance from your vehicle’s dealer service center.

Editors’ Recommendations

Cars | Digital Trends