Car infotainment systems are the in-thing today. They don’t just make your dashboard look pretty; they take your driving experience to a whole new level.
Today, two of the most popular ones are Uconnect and CarPlay, but which one is better?
CarPlay is best for iPhone users because you can use built-in iOS apps and third-party apps on your car display. It’s also free, unlike Uconnect, whose best features are subscription-based.
Uconnect is best for Android users due to its compatibility with Android devices if you don’t want to opt for Andriod auto.
In this article, I’ll get into what each of these systems entails as far as features, compatibility, and price go.
This detailed comparison comparing Uconnect vs Carplay will help you determine which one will work best for you.
What Is Uconnect?
Uconnect is a car technology that allows you to access radio, navigation, and other connectivity tools using a touchscreen in your car.
Drivers can connect their Android or ios powered devices to Uconnect and perform several phone functions on their car’s dashboard.
These functions include:
- making and taking calls
- navigating to a destination
- adjusting the seat position.
Most new cars manufactured by Fiat-Chrysler come with Uconnect. These include Jeep, Chrysler, Alfa Romeo, Dodge, and Ferrari.
Features of Uconnect
The free version of Uconnect has the following features:
- Touch AM/FM Radio
- A voice command assistant for hands-free calling and texting
- Bluetooth connectivity
- Speed-adjusted volume
Uconnect offers additional features that you can access via a paid subscription to Uconnect Access. As a paid subscriber, you will get:
- Stolen Vehicle Assistance: this helps you find your stolen car. All you have to do is file a stolen vehicle report with local law enforcement. And Uconnect will then use GPS technology and the built-in wireless connection within your vehicle to locate it.
- Remote Lock/Unlock: with this feature, you can lock and unlock your car from anywhere using your smartphone. You can also set up alerts on your phone that notify you when your vehicle gets locked or unlocked.
- 911 Calling: if you ever need emergency assistance while on the road, you can press the 911 button on the rearview mirror. Once connected to a 9-1-1 operator, your car will transmit your last known GPS location and your car’s make and model, so you can quickly be located.
- Roadside Assistance Calling: at the press of a button labeled ASSIST, also on the rearview mirror, you can receive timely roadside assistance in the event of a flat tire or car breakdown. You can also request Uconnect system support or complete vehicle support.
- Remote Vehicle Start: this lets you start your vehicle without your keys from any distance. You can also activate cooled or heated seats using the climate control settings. The engine will run for 15 minutes before automatically shutting down.
- Drive Rating Report: Uconnect tracks your driving performance and uses this data to rate your driving skills. You then have the option to share your awarded rating with auto insurance companies for discounts.
What Is Carplay?
CarPlay is an Apple automobile interface that lets you connect your iPhone to your car’s radio or infotainment system.
Once a connection is established, you can control certain apps on your phone on your car’s touchscreen interface.
CarPlay has hands-free navigating and calling capabilities as well as voice command functions.
It’s compatible with iPhone 5 or newer, running iOS 7 and above.
Since its introduction in 2014, many car manufacturers have been building CarPlay support in their cars’ infotainment systems.
You can also have the software installed in your vehicle through other aftermarket in-dash systems made by companies like Kenwood and Sony.
To use CarPlay, connect your iPhone to a CarPlay-compatible car via an Apple Lightning to USB cable. You can also do it wirelessly if supported.
Features of CarPlay
CarPlay offers the following features:
- Apple Maps: in addition to providing directions, CarPlay can predict your next destination using addresses in your email, calendar, or text messages. It also allows you to switch between the day and dark mode of Apple map styles.
- Hands-Free Messaging and Calling: this feature lets you answer calls without looking or touching your phone. Siri announces incoming calls and texts, which you can answer, reply, or ignore. When asked, Siri can also share your ETA with anyone as you’re driving.
- Apple Music: you also have access to everything included in your Apple Music subscription, from songs to playlists, all on your car’s built-in display. There’s a range of other compatible Apple CarPlay Music apps, such as:
- Audible CarPlay App
- Amazon Music Carplay App
- YouTube Music CarPlay App
- Spotify Carplay App
- More iPhone Apps: CarPlay allows you to use other iPhone apps, including messaging and food-ordering apps. Apps from car manufacturers are also supported. In addition, you can rearrange the apps on your car’s touchscreen using settings on your iPhone for a personalized experience.
- Digital Car Keys: this makes it possible to unlock and start your car using your iPhone. And in case your phone battery dies, you can still use your digital car keys for up to 5 hours.(Compatible vehicles only).
Basic Similarities Between Uconnect vs CarPlay
Uconnect and CarPlay are two programs that let you use your phone through your car’s interface.
So naturally, they share some similarities. For instance, both systems:
- Display your phone’s information on your car’s infotainment unit
- Come built-in a car’s system
- Can connect wirelessly
- Support voice commands
Can You Add CarPlay to Uconnect?
You can add CarPlay to Uconnect wirelessly through WiFi or Bluetooth if you have a Uconnect 5 system. Select Uconnect 4 systems can also support CarPlay but via USB.
Once connected, you can get directions using Apple Maps, play music from Apple Music, and make calls using Uconnect’s display or Apple’s voice assistant, Siri.
See my full article, which explores how to get Apple CarPlay on Uconnect.
Do You Need Uconnect for Apple CarPlay?
You don’t need Uconnect for Apple CarPlay.
Many car models from 2014 and on support CarPlay and come with built-in controls such as a touchscreen or rotary knob.
So all you need to use the infotainment system is to connect your phone to the vehicle.
If your car is not among the over 600 vehicle models that support CarPlay, you can still add it with an aftermarket system.
A unit like the Pioneer AVH-W4400NEX from Amazon is highly recommendable. It allows wired or wireless connection and comes with everything you need to install Apple CarPlay.
Final Thoughts between CarPlay vs Uconnect
Uconnect and CarPlay are both great infotainment systems that offer valuable features.
You can add CarPlay to Uconnect, but you don’t necessarily need Uconnect to use CarPlay.
Uconnect offers the basic features for free, but you’ll need a subscription for more important features like Stolen Vehicle Assistance.
All CarPlay’s features are accessible for free, but the system only works with iPhones.
So of the two, Uconnect is the logical choice for Android users. iPhone users can use Uconnect or CarPlay, but the latter offers a more personalized experience.