Is CarPlay an App?

Is carplay an app: featured image

Apple CarPlay is starting to appear in more and more car stereos. In fact, it is often touted as a major feature of these stereos. But, what is Apple CarPlay? Is CarPlay an app? 

Do you have to install apps onto it? 

In short:

Apple CarPlay is a piece of software built into your car stereo, and, thus, it is an app (or application). However, it isn’t the type of app that you download on your phone.

What is Apple CarPlay?

To understand if carplay is an app, you need to understand what CarPlay really is.

Apple CarPlay is, essentially, a sophisticated screen mirroring software.

With Apple CarPlay, the idea is that you hook your Apple device up to your stereo. This can be either by a lightning cable or wireless connection (must be compatible). Compatible apps will then be available through Apple CarPlay.

Is CarPlay an App?

Sort of.

Apple CarPlay is a piece of software built into your car stereo, and, thus, it is an app (or application).

However, it isn’t the type of app that you may be used to. For starters, you are not going to need to install it yourself, nor are you going to be able to do so.

It is something that comes pre-installed with a car stereo. If your car stereo doesn’t come with Apple CarPlay, then you would never be able to install Apple CarPlay on it.

We suppose the best way to describe Apple CarPlay is as a ‘copy’ of the iOS operating system, albeit with several changes. As we said before, it is really mirroring what you have installed on your Apple device. However, there is a real piece of Apple software running on your car stereo, and it is one that is going to be updated just like any other piece of Apple software.

So, is Apple CarPlay an app? Yes and no. Yes, insofar as it is a piece of software, but no because it is not installed in the same way as other Apple apps. It is always pre-installed.

People often wonder if it’s possible for them to get Apple CarPlay for Andriod; however, this isn’t possible and is not an App you can download on your Android device. Instead, use Andriod Auto.

An iphone representing if carplay is an app

Do You Have To Install Apps on Apple CarPlay?

No. Apple CarPlay is just a mirroring tool. This means it will use the existing apps on your iPhone.

When you connect your iPhone or iPad up to the stereo system (either via a Lightning Cable or Wireless), the Apple CarPlay software will be able to ‘read’ what software is installed on your device.

If the app is compatible with Apple CarPlay, as many are nowadays, then it will be displayed within the Apple CarPlay software.

At no point will you ever be needing to install apps on Apple CarPlay. That is all going to be handled by the connected Apple device.

However, do bear in mind that if the battery on your connected device goes, then you will not be able to access any apps through Apple CarPlay. It really has basic functionality when it is not connected up to an Apple system.

Do bear in mind that not all apps on the App Store are going to be compatible with Apple CarPlay.

We have a range of guides on various CarPlay apps such as:

Apple has to give special permission for a developer to produce an app for Apple CarPlay. This means that the apps tend to be limited to those that are not only popular but could be used in a vehicle without there being any safety concerns, e.g., GPS, audio streaming services, messaging and phone call systems, and anything similar to those apps. The range of apps is regularly expanding.

Note: Apple CarPlay data usage is also no more significant than it would be using your iPhone regularly.

How do I get the Apple Carplay app?

As we’ve already discussed, it’s installed natively into the iPhone IOS, and if your car stereo is compatible, it should work by simply plugging in or connecting your iPhone.

Final Word 

Apple CarPlay is not an app. At least, not by the definition that Apple uses. It is just a tool that enables you to easily run software installed on your iPhone or iPad through your car stereo.

You do not have to install the apps on your Apple CarPlay compatible stereo. Your connected Apple device is going to do all of the heavy liftings.

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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