Is Apple CarPlay Worth It? & Should You Use It? (Expert Opinion)

When it comes to infotainment systems, there’s one big question on everyone’s mind: is Apple CarPlay worth it?

Well, it depends on your perspective.

Some people think the convenience offered is well worth it, while others may be more hesitant to shell out money for something that seems overpriced if it’s not already in the vehicle.

Apple CarPlay is worth it for anyone who frequently uses their iPhone while driving. It’s a safer alternative to holding your phone, and it can also help you avoid breaking the law. With CarPlay, you can easily use voice commands to send text messages, make phone calls, and get voice directions.

Overall rating              4/5
Ease of use             4/5
Ease of assembly             3/5
Affordability             3/5
Energy efficiency             4/5

Pros of Apple CarPlay

wired carplay connection for comparison vs wireless carplay

  • Seamless connection between iPhone and car infotainment system. This means you can use all your favorite apps on the big screen without fumbling with your phone while driving. So CarPlay is safe in that regard.

 

  • The interface is very user-friendly and easy to navigate. A growing number of apps are compatible with CarPlay, so you can find what you’re looking for. See my top CarPlay navigation apps for some ideas.

 

  • Access to voice commands. This hands-free feature is extremely useful when you need to stay focused on the road but still need to use your iPhone. Simply tell Siri your Carplay request, and she will deliver.

 

  • Reading and dictating text. This is an excellent feature for those who want to stay responsive but can’t afford to take their eyes off the road. CarPlay works with popular apps like Whatsapp, which is popular for messaging.

whatsapp carplay announcing message

Cons of Apple CarPlay

  • It can be expensive if you don’t already have it. Depending on the make and model of your car, installing CarPlay might set you back a few hundred dollars.

 

  • Not all apps are compatible with CarPlay. If you’re relying on a specific app for your daily grind, there’s no guarantee it will work with CarPlay. For example, Slack, Meta messenger, and Soundcloud aren’t currently compatible.

 

  • You might need to upgrade your iPhone. If you have an older iPhone model (iPhone 5 and lower), you might need to upgrade to a newer one to take advantage of CarPlay.

Who Should Get Apple CarPlay?

If you frequently use your iPhone while driving and want a safer, more convenient way to do so, Apple CarPlay is worth it.

It’s also a good choice if you’re looking for an intuitive and user-friendly interface for your car’s infotainment system.

I would argue that it’s better than all other default systems, such as Uconnect, and Siri Eyes Free.

Let’s say you are a real estate agent driving around and taking client calls all day.

Wouldn’t it be awesome to have a way to safely take those calls without ever having to take your hands off the wheel?

man picking up a rental car - is carplay safe for rental cars

That’s where CarPlay comes in. By installing CarPlay in your car, you can use your iPhone to make calls, dictate texts, and even get turn-by-turn directions–all without ever having to look at your phone.

The agent can also access their contact lists, calendar, and any other essential apps they need to get their job done.

This is just one example of how CarPlay can be a valuable asset for anyone who spends a lot of time in their car.

If you think CarPlay could make your life easier, it’s definitely worth considering.

Apple CarPlay Usability

home screen apple carplay text notification

As someone who uses an iPhone, I think CarPlay is very easy to use. Sort of like having an iPad in your car!

The interface is user-friendly and straightforward, and there is a growing number of compatible apps for CarPlay. This means you can usually find what you’re looking for.

I also like the fact that CarPlay gives you the option to multitask. For example, Maps won’t close if someone opens Spotify on your iPhone. It will just group the apps together so you can access them both at the same time.

You also get to customize your wallpaper to match your car’s interior. There are a handful of stock images to choose from, but you cannot choose a custom image from your photos.

Finding an EV charging station is also easier with Apple Maps. Just search for “EV charging,” and it will show you a list of nearby stations.

This is a game-changer for anyone who owns an electric vehicle.

I also like seeing what’s playing, complete with album artwork, on the CarPlay home screen. This is a nice touch that makes it feel more like my own personal infotainment system.

Amazon Music Carplay Playing screen
 

CarPlay Updates and Upgrades

One of the great things about CarPlay is that it’s always getting better.

Apple regularly releases CarPlay software updates that add new features and improve performance. And if you have a newer iPhone model, you might be able to take advantage of the newest and greatest CarPlay features.

For example, the latest version of iOS adds support for Siri natural language commands, meaning you can now use Siri to control your music, navigation, and more just by using your voice.

This hands-free control is convenient and safer, as it allows you to keep your eyes on the road while still being able to use your iPhone.

The notification feature has also been significantly improved in iOS 16. You can now see incoming messages and notifications on your CarPlay display and even reply to them using Siri.

This is a great way to stay connected while driving without picking up your phone.

You also get the focus feature that filters out distractions and allows you to see only the information you need while driving.

This is perfect for anyone who wants to stay focused on the road and avoid social media distractions.

The new 3D Maps feature in iOS 16 is also worth mentioning.

It gives you a more realistic and immersive view of your surroundings when using Apple Maps for navigation. It’s especially useful when driving in unfamiliar territory, as it can help you better orient yourself and avoid getting lost.

I also like the new privacy measures, such as processing Siri commands on your phone. This means all your data stays local, which goes a long way in improving online privacy. Nobody saw this coming, and I think it is one of the best things the company has done in recent history.

Overall, iOS 16 brings a lot of great new features to CarPlay.

If you haven’t updated your iPhone in a while, it’s worth doing so just for the CarPlay improvements alone.

Third-Party Apps You Can Use on Apple CarPlay

carplay weatherology app logo on home screen

In addition to the built-in CarPlay apps, there are also many third-party apps that you can use with CarPlay.

These include popular apps like Spotify, Pandora, WhatsApp, Amazon Music, iHeartRadio, and many more.

However, it is worth noting that some apps overlap with CarPlay’s built-in features.

For example, you can use Apple Music to listen to your favorite tracks with the help of Siri. 

CarPlay also gives you access to some built-in iPhone apps, such as Phone, Messages, Maps, and more. So, you might not need to install third-party versions of these apps if you’re happy with the built-in versions. Unless you have a YouTube music subscription, for instance.

In general, I would only recommend installing third-party apps on CarPlay if you really need them.

The built-in CarPlay apps and Siri will be more than enough for most people.

How To Get CarPlay “Free” or Real Cheap

I get it. You might be thinking, “Why would I pay for something I can get for free?” And you’re right–you can get CarPlay as part of a bigger purchase.

For example, BMW recently scrapped the paywall and made CarPlay free for all models. Audi, Mercedes-Benz, and Volvo have also followed suit. So if you’re in the market for a new car, you might be able to get CarPlay without paying anything extra if you don’t already have it.

I know this is not exactly free, but it’s the closest you can get to it. And if you’re not in the market for a new car, there are other ways to get CarPlay without breaking the bank.

One way is to buy a used car that already has CarPlay installed. This is a great option if you’re on a budget and don’t mind buying a used car.

Aftermarket CarPlay Options

BMW 3 series Head unit area
 

If you don’t want to buy a new car or a used car with CarPlay, there are also some aftermarket options that you can consider. These are usually cheaper than buying a new car, but they’re also more complicated to install.

One popular option is buying an aftermarket head unit with CarPlay built-in. These are becoming increasingly popular, as they’re relatively easy to install and aren’t too expensive.

Another option is to buy a separate CarPlay dongle that plugs into your car’s existing head unit. These are usually less expensive than buying a new head unit, but they don’t look as nice, can be an eye soar, and don’t always work well.

Either way, there are several aftermarket CarPlay options that you can consider if you’re not interested in buying a new or used car.

Can You Watch Netflix on CarPlay?

netflix playing on carplay screen

This is a question that I get a lot. And the answer is no, you cannot watch Netflix on CarPlay.

The reason for this is simple. CarPlay is designed for use while driving, and watching Netflix requires your full attention. It’s just too dangerous to try to watch a movie while driving, so Apple doesn’t allow it.

If you want to watch Netflix while driving, you’ll need to buy a separate headrest-mounted DVD player or use your phone’s data plan to stream it. But I would highly recommend against doing this, as it’s very dangerous.

CarPlay is designed for use while driving, and watching a movie requires your full attention. It’s the same for CarPlay games.

Do People Like CarPlay?

Overall, I would say that people like CarPlay.

It’s not perfect, but it’s a significant improvement over the built-in infotainment systems that most cars come with.

However, there are a few drawbacks to CarPlay, such as the lack of support for some apps. But overall, I think CarPlay is an excellent option for people looking for a better way to use their iPhones in the car.

The only time CarPlay would not be a good fit is if you are an Android user. Android users can’t use CarPlay, so they would be better off with an aftermarket Android Auto head unit or a separate Android Auto dongle.

Can You Access Apple CarPlay Wirelessly?

BMW Wireless Carplay & Android Auto
 

Yes, you can access Apple CarPlay wirelessly. However, this feature is only available on certain vehicles and aftermarket head units.

If your car or head unit supports wireless CarPlay, you’ll be able to connect to it just like a Wi-Fi network. Once connected, you’ll be able to use all of the same CarPlay features you’re used to without having to plug in your iPhone.

I have found that wireless CarPlay vs wired is more convenient than a wired connection, as it’s one less thing to worry about. However, it’s not available on all cars and head units, so you’ll need to check to see if your vehicle supports it before you buy anything.

BMW also supports keyless entry with CarPlay. So if you have an iPhone 8 or later, you can unlock your car just by walking up to it and tapping a button on your phone. This is a really cool feature that I hope more cars start to support in the future.

Final Thoughts: Is Apple CarPlay Worth it?

So, the big question is, should you use CarPlay? And the answer is, it depends.

If you’re looking for a better way to use your iPhone in the car, I recommend CarPlay. It’s much safer than using your phone while driving and offers many convenient features that can make your drive more enjoyable.

However, if you’re an Android user, then CarPlay isn’t going to do anything for you. In this case, you would be better off with an aftermarket Android Auto unit.

Either way, I hope this article has helped you decide whether or not CarPlay is right for you.

Alex
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
StereoUpgrade.com

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