• iOS 13 debuts this fall, and it will bring significant changes to Apple CarPlay.
  • The CarPlay changes will be available for any device with the updated iPhone software, and do not require any updates to the car itself.
  • CarPlay competitor Android Auto was also recently updated.

    When iOS 13 comes to your iPhone this fall, it’ll do more than just improve your selfies. It will also improve the interface between your phone and your car with some significant tweaks to Apple CarPlay. Representatives from Apple came by our office this week to give us a taste of what’s to come. If you just can’t wait to experience these features in person, you can download a beta version of iOS 13 and try them out yourself, but be warned: beta means buggy.

    The first thing you’ll likely notice upon plugging an updated iPhone into your car is that CarPlay now has a dashboard-style home screen, which can display several different pieces of information at once—a map view, basic audio controls, and suggestions from Siri, for instance.

    Car and Driver

    The old home button, a relic of the pre-2018 iPhone, has been replaced with a row of tiles that accomplish the same function. From the new dashboard screen, you can still click to expand individual apps to take up the whole screen. Siri, however, will no longer take up the whole screen even when in use, a change that the frequent CarPlay users in our office welcomed.

    You’ll also notice changes to a few key applications. Apple’s native Calendar app will now provide directions or call into a meeting at a tap of the screen if you’re in the car while an event comes up. And Apple Music subscribers can now stream 100,000 terrestrial FM radio stations, so you can still listen to your favorite morning show even if you’re far from home. Look out for those data charges, though.


    Car and Driver

    iOS 13 will make it easier to adjust certain settings via CarPlay. Apple’s do not disturb mode, which blocks notifications while driving, can now be enabled or disabled on the car’s screen (it could previously only be modified on the phone itself, which is not convenient to do while CarPlay is engaged). There’s also a new Light mode, which replaces CarPlay’s standard black background with a lighter one. That mode is automatically disabled at night and when the headlights are on.


    Car and Driver

    Apple says CarPlay is designed to be minimally distracting, and to allow users to accomplish a variety of functions—most crucially, texting and making phone calls—without taking their eyes off the road. Anecdotally, we know that many drivers prefer the ease of navigating through familiar smartphone systems when driving rather than using the often less-ergonomic systems built into their cars. Though our experience with the iOS 13 version of CarPlay is limited so far, it seems to represent an incremental but valuable improvement on the iOS 12 software.

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