Having experienced Apple’s CarPlay for over a week now, there has been a few moments when I thought, ‘wouldn’t it be good if it did this.’ So here are my top 10 Apple CarPlay improvements that I would like to see.
1. Tapping the Home button to go back to the first page
This would be a simple change for Apple, and help keep our hands more on the wheel and less flicking back through many pages of CarPlay apps to get to the first screen. Pressing the Home button to return to the first page mimics exactly how iOS on Apple’s mobile devices behave, so I think this should also happen on CarPlay too.
2. App ordering
With the growing number of CarPlay apps releasing on the App Store, it is now time that we should be able to order our favourite apps and stop Apple from taking over the first page with their own!
3. Dock bar featuring our favourite apps
Like on iOS mobile devices, it would be more intuitive to have a bottom (or side) dock bar that we can fix our favourite apps to and see, at a glance, any badge alerts for any inactive running apps.
The side bar is already filling up our screen’s real-estate with a clock, which we already have somewhere else in our vehicles. Let’s place this information at the top (like other iOS devices), freeing up the side bar and place our commonly used apps on it.
4. View composed or received message text on screen
Composing messages and listening to received messages is currently handled, audibly, through Siri, however I think it would still be beneficial to see the message as text on screen. This is important for composed messages, to allow us to see if Siri has interpreted our voice with an incorrect word in our message.
5. Battery indicator
This is a small feature and one we’ve seen appear (but swiftly removed) during the iOS 9 beta, but the inclusion of your connected device’s battery would be a nice touch to monitor your device’s battery charging progress.
6. Easy/fast app switching
Swapping between apps in CarPlay can feel archaic at times. Having the ability to switch between the current app and the last app used would prevent time spent looking at the screen, scrolling through page upon page of apps and selecting the last used app.
We have this already when Maps is running, but once Maps is selected we don’t see our other app in the side bar, to switch back to.
7. Custom backgrounds
It took some time before we saw custom background wallpapers appear on iOS devices, and I can see CarPlay eventually have this option too in the future.
You could select your wallpaper via the Settings > General > CarPlay area on your phone. From here we could easily select an image from our device’s Camera Roll, once selected would feature as part of the CarPlay dashboard background.
8. More apps per page
I believe we can squeeze in an additional two more apps per page of the dashboard. The current 8 icons look a little oversized to me. 10 icons on screen would require a reduction in icon size (80% its current size), but I believe there is room for an increase in the apps per page, whilst still being easily selectable.
9. Notifications on screen
Being able to view your device notifications on our CarPlay screen would prevent most of us from reaching over to our iOS device to find out what alert has arrived on our phones.
A similar act of pulling down from the top of the display (or a button on the dock if that isn’t doable through just software) could be used to display notifications. For safety, selecting certain notifications would be inactive, except for compatible CarPlay apps that could launch and direct the user to the alerted content.
10. More variety of apps
There is only so many podcast or music apps you can have on CarPlay before you end up falling back to your default set of a few favourites. A variety of alternative apps would be most welcome right now. Apps such as weather, news & social alerts, or even car data-based apps would be most welcome on Apple’s CarPlay platform to help us stay connected whilst on the move.
Developers need to think outside the box a little, existing apps need to submit updates with CarPlay support, and Apple needs to look at what past and current cars have allowed drivers to access on their car displays and allow such apps through their strict app review process. I remember my old BMW was able to display Twitter, news and weather apps on its dashboard display.
This is just the tip of the iceberg of what Apple could do, and I hope, through consistent iOS updates, we will see Apple make many more improvements to its CarPlay platform. Let’s hope Apple are watching and take some of these suggestions on board. Apple, you’re welcome. 🙂
What improvements would you make to Apple’s CarPlay? Share your suggestions in the comments below.