Apple CarPlay F.A.Q.
I get asked a lot of questions on my YouTube channel and via contact us form. So I have compiled the most frequently asked/answered questions here on this very page. If you would like to suggest a question, please feel free to let me know via my contact form below. This is a life working page, so it will be updated over time as new questions are asked or when I have the time to add more.
General Apple CarPlay
First there should be a USB port in the centre console or on your dashboard.
Connect your iPhone to this USB port using an MFI (Made for iPhone) Lightning cable and on your car display Apple CarPlay will either display automatically or it will display an Apple CarPlay icon on your system menu screen, tap this icon/button to launch Apple CarPlay.
If you do not have any of these mentioned above, then it is likely that your car system does not have wired CarPlay enabled.
If your vehicle doesn’t have a compatible CarPlay stere/receiver, you will have to look at other ways to get CarPlay in your car.
Your options are:
- Retro fit a compatible CarPlay stereo using a newer stereo from a more modern model of your car make/model.
- Install a CarPlay compatible aftermarket car stereo.
- Some more modern car stereos (with touch and dial operation) can be converted using a CarPlay enabeled convertor box. A professional installer is recommended for this.
- A standalone CarPlay display can work with your existing stereo for the most easist and fastest way to get CarPlay in your vehicle without any messy or costly install. Audio is sent to your stereo wirelessly via FM transmutation or using a cable AUX input if it has one. Newer models are releasing with BT audio output support to sent audio to a BT connection on your existing stereo.
CarPlay requires an Apple iPhone and a compatible Apple CarPlay enabled stereo/system to connect to it and display CarPlay app’s content.
CarPlay then streams a pre-formatted audio & video display feed from your iPhone to the display, and your display (touch or dial) sends back control input to your iPhone to navigate and control the CarPlay app that is being currently used.
For this to work your CarPlay stereo/receiver will need a USB-A or USB-C connect for wired Apple CarPlay, and a Bluetooth and Wi-Fi hardware inside for wireless Apple CarPlay.
CarPlay is pre-built into your iPhone. You do not have to download any app for Apple CarPlay to work with your CarPlay compatible stereo/receiver.
Simply connect your iPhone either via a cable to the CarPlay port in the car and the CarPlay main menu and its compatible apps will show on your stereo/receiver display.
Only apps that Apple grant access to are allowed on their CarPlay platform. They range across a few specific categories, shown in the image above.
Most popular music apps work with CarPlay, from Apple Music, to Spotify and YouTube Music. Navigation apps such as Apple Maps, Google Maps, Waze and TomTom are compatible with Apple CarPlay. Other app types such as podcast apps, communications apps, parking, EV apps and a few more categories of apps are available.
Don’t expect apps that require lots of interaction or may cause distraction from the task of driving to be supported for Apple CarPlay.
The YouTube app isn’t compatible for Apple CarPlay, for obvious reasons of distraction whilst driving. You can continue to use the YouTube app on your iPhone and have the sound come out of CarPlay, but you cannot display the video from YouTube on your CarPlay display from your connected iPhone.
There IS a way though, and that is through an Android AI Box and some wireless CarPlay dongles are starting to support streaming over AirPlay for video apps like YouTube. All streaming apps from iPhone will carry copyright restrictions, so apps like Netflix, Disney+ and Amazon Prime Video will not work, however YouTube, Plex and videos from your Camera Roll will be able to stream from your iPhone.
AI Boxes will run directly from the AI Box, cutting out your iPhone, meaning these copyrighted apps WILL display on your CarPlay display as long as you provide the AI Box an internet connection, which can be from your personal hotspots from your phone or an inserted SIM card (if available).
To change the Siri and turn-by-turn navigation audio levels against the main audio volume level, you need to adjust the volume during Siri or turn-by-turn playback. If this is supported you should see an alternative volume slider that, once adjusted, you can set the volume level differently to the main music volume.
Another way to get the independant volume level is to use the Google Maps app. Go into settings and select the volume settings option. Whilst Google navigation is active, adjust your system volume to a suitable level to alter the volume for Siri or Turn-by-Turn audio level.
Apple CarPlay Receivers
Since CarPlay’s release in 2014, many car stereo makers have adopted the platform in their line-up or car receivers. Each year brings new features, and improved UI throughout new models.
Top big brands making CarPlay compatible receivers include:
Many brands above offer single-DIN and double-DIN CarPlay stereos to replace your current car stereo and fit inside your car’s dashboard.
Many come with their own surrounding frames and some offer integrated frames to suite more modern vehicles with stylised dashboards.
If you’re buying a receiver today, check for support with your particular car make and model so you can carry over existing steeringwheel controls and control existing car system features.
Also look for wireless CarPlay and Android Auto support, and resolutions higher than 800 x 400 and displays large enough to fit in with your interior. A large screen is all well and good but if the display covers key parts of your dashboard, it might not be a good enough fit.
You can also buy Android OS based receivers that offer CarPlay support through a built-in Android App that runs on the system.
Android headunits offer lots of customisation and also offer easy ways to watch movies from the main video streaming apps without any restrictions. So if that is important to you, then you might want to considder looking at an Android headunit.
They are usually a lot cheaper, and some offer specific CANBUS, harnesses and frames to suit your make and model of vehicle, which makes installation a lot simpler and easier to do.
Some headunits are a little underpowered though. So make sure you look for 8-core CPUs, and CPUs like the PX6 with lots of RAM from 4 and ideally more for a longer lasting, fast experience.
Wireless CarPlay Dongles
Wireless CarPlay dongles conenct to your existing CarPlay enabled stereo/receiver via either its USB-A or USB-C CarPlay port in your car.
The chipset inside the wireless dongle then fools your CarPlay system into thinking that an iPhone is connected to it and it will display its own connecting main menu boot screen in the same area wired CarPlay would display.
The chipset inside the dongle then connects to your own iPhone over a Bluetooth and then Wi-Fi connection, just like a factory wireless CarPlay system would, to connect to your iPhone wirelessly, which the app/content is then displayed via the dongle onto your stereo/system’s display.
This depends on your own requirements from the wireless dongle and what extra features you want it to do.
All connect to your iPhone wirelessly, however some offer Android Auto support (wireless) and some also feature multi-user support should you be sharing your CarPlay vehicle with someone else in the car. Some boot up fast, some have more custom/compatibilty options in their web based settings area.
I have reviewed many CarPlay wireless dongles on my channel, so head over to this playlist to learn about each one and there are also a few round up videos there too.
CarPlay Android OS AI Boxes
AI Box dongles connect to your existing CarPlay enabled stereo/receiver via either its USB-A or USB-C CarPlay port in your car.
The chipset inside the AI Box then fools your CarPlay system into thinking that an iPhone is connected to it and it will display its own connecting main menu boot screen in the same area wired CarPlay would display.
The AI Box will then display an Android Operating System (Android OS) and allow you to run Android based apps that are either pre-installed, downloaded from the Google Play Stereo, or sideloaded via an APK app installer.
Most AI Boxes offer wireless CarPlay and Android Auto. The connection uses both hardware and software to emulate the connectiono to your mobile using Bluetooth and then a Wi-Fi connection. Once wirelessly connected to your mobile, the platform is then displayed via the AI Box and its installed App onto your stereo/system’s display.
This depends on your own requirements from the AI Box and what you want it to do.
Most people want to playback video media of their own or stream movies from apps like YouTube, Amazon Prime Video and Disney+ to the AI Box onto your CarPlay.
Most AI Boxes are able to do simple video streaming and media playback, however many do this is a clunky basic way due to the speed of the hardware inside them.
I would go for an AI Box with at least 4GB of RAM and as much storage as you think you will need for newly installed Android apps and any content you wish to download to the AI Box.
If you want a fast user experience that handles more multi-tasking of Android apps, look for an AI Box with a QualComm 665 or 6125 processor inside. Most AI Boxes still come with QC450 chips which are quick underpowered for fast navigating, multitasking and high intensive apps.