Apple Watch CarPlay: Pairing, Compatibility & Bugs

Apple Watch CarPlay - featured image

With so many apps created every day, it’s increasingly challenging to keep up to date or completely understand them.

It, therefore, comes as no surprise that most iOS users have more questions than answers regarding the CarPlay app that lets you pair your iPhone with your car.

Let’s look into one of the common areas of contention; the Apple Watch CarPlay pairing.

It’s not possible to pair your Apple Watch and CarPlay directly. For CarPlay to work, you have to pair it with your iPhone and keep your phone in the car. If you’ve paired your Apple Watch with your iPhone, you can receive CarPlay / iPhone notifications via your Apple Watch.

This article will discuss helpful questions related to this topic, including whether or not you can pair your Apple watch with CarPlay, compatibility issues, and some of the bugs to look out for.

Read on for more.

carplay and apple watch side by side

Can You Pair an Apple Watch Directly With Carplay?

You can’t pair an Apple Watch directly with CarPlay. You can only pair your car with your phone, and this connection type doesn’t extend to other smart devices such as smartwatches.

The internet of things is always a fascinating subject.

Accordingly, it’s not outside the realm of possibilities to expect to pair your car with your Apple watch in the same way you would a smartphone.

After all, if these devices can communicate via wireless networks, you should be able to pair your Apple watch with your car via CarPlay, right?

Unfortunately, no. You must first pair Apple CarPlay with your Smartphone.

After this step, you can get additional functionalities that extend to your Apple Watch, including receiving Apple CarPlay notifications on your Apple Watch.

This means that if you’re looking to disconnect from the relentless chatter and leave your iPhone at home, you won’t get any functionality from Apple CarPlay if you plan to pair it with your Apple Watch.

Apple Watch Compatibility With CarPlay

With the above in mind, one common question is whether you can still receive notifications on your Apple Watch if you have it paired to your iPhone.

While you cannot pair your Apple Watch directly with CarPlay, it can be done indirectly and still come in handy.

The Apple Watch and CarPlay relationship can be summarized in two simple steps.

  1. Pair your Apple Watch with your iPhone.
  2. Pair your iPhone with your car.


However, the level of functionality you will get isn’t as expansive as most users spending a pretty penny for an Apple watch would like.

One of the functionalities should include receiving CarPlay notifications via your Apple Watch.

For instance, if you use CarPlay with maps for navigation, your Apple Watch will vibrate with every turn.

As far as media playing is concerned, your Apple Watch will display a now playing screen when you’re jamming to your favorite playlists saved on your iPhone or via a CarPlay music app.

This connection is typically very smooth, and the functionality is just as seamless.

This is as far as Apple Watch notifications with CarPlay go.

Still, there’s a chance you’ll face issues with your Apple Watch interfering with CarPlay, which I’ll discuss below.

Apple Watch CarPlay Bugs

key for car installed with apple carplay and apple watch on wood floor

While this isn’t a universal problem, some CarPlay users have expressed frustration with Apple Watch interfering with CarPlay and vice versa.

CarPlay Interfering With Apple Watch

One of the common bugs of pairing an Apple Watch with CarPlay prevents your phone from functioning correctly.

Specifically, if your phone is paired to your car via Bluetooth, you may stop receiving call alerts on your Apple Watch when you plug your phone in and potentially miss calls. 

Apple Watch Interfering With CarPlay

Another common problem is that Apple Watch connections result in sensory overload.

For instance, CarPlay will put your iPhone’s maps on display even while navigating. Therefore, you can already see what is happening.

Receiving constant buzzing on your wrists as your Apple Watch sends navigation alerts can be frustrating.

After all, the primary objective of CarPlay pairing is to minimize distractions from your iPhone.

You can simply mute the navigation alerts if you’re experiencing these issues running Watch OS 5 on your watch and iOS 12 on your iPhone.

Simply navigate to the My Watch tab on your phone.

Alternatively, you can simply turn your Apple Watch on AirPlane mode when using CarPlay, by navigating to the Airplane Mode icon under the Settings tab.

Other CarPlay Apple Watch Bugs

Lastly, the best way to minimize other potential bugs is to ensure you have the lasted update for CarPlay, your iPhone, and your Apple Watch. 

That way, if developers find any, they will likely be resolved in the next update.

Final Thoughts

In closing, it’s not possible to pair your Apple Watch with Apple CarPlay directly. This connection can only exist indirectly by first pairing your watch to your iPhone and then pairing your iPhone to your car.

However, you’ll get limited functionality, as CarPlay is designed to minimize driving distractions.

Save from turn-by-turn notifications when driving and a ‘now playing’ showing on the screen if you turn your wrist, Apple Watch offers no other functionality with CarPlay.

Picture of Alex
I loved my car but was frustrated with my media system. So I upgraded my stereo, making silly wires and precarious phone mounts a thing of the past. The Apple Car Play stereo was so good I wanted to show more people how this could be done and truly upgrade their cars multimedia system! Founder
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