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What is Apple CarPlay?

Apple CarPlay is in-car technology that provides a sensible and smart way to use your iPhone while in the car. In effect, CarPlay brings all the things you want to do with your Apple iPhone and displays them on your vehicle’s center console screen. Plug your iPhone into your car’s USB port and you can listen to music, receive and send messages and obtain driving directions. Android Auto by Google provides similar connectivity for users and both systems can help drivers maintain their focus on the road.

Apple CarPlay and Android Auto

Consumers with a smartphone may be able to connect to a vehicle’s infotainment system if the manufacturer has provided access by including Apple CarPlay or Android Auto software.

Apple CarPlay works with Apple iPhones, while Android Auto connects to Android-based systems developed by Google. Smartphone access covers newer phones, so check with your provider to learn if your phone is compatible.

With both systems when a smartphone is connected to the car’s infotainment system, a new interface based on the respective smartphone software appears on the touch screen. Both voice and touch-screen access are available.

Apple CarPlay Availability

Apple CarPlay arrived for the 2016 model year and is currently available in more than 100 vehicles worldwide. We’ll list a sample of the vehicles currently supporting CarPlay, then follow with a second list of vehicles supporting Android Auto. Take note of which models support both systems.

Luxury Cars
2016 Audi A4; 2016 Cadillac ATS, CT6 and CTS; 2016 Mercedes-Benz CLA, CLS and E-Class; 2017 Volvo S90

Luxury SUVs
2017 Audi Q7; 2016 Cadillac Escalade; 2016 Mercedes-Benz GLA and GLE; 2017 Porsche Macan; 2016 Volvo XC90

Sports Cars
2017 Acura NSX; 2016 Chevrolet Camaro and Corvette; 2016 Porsche 911 and 2017 718 Boxster

Mainstream SUVs
2016 Chevrolet Suburban and Tahoe; 2017 Ford Escape; 2016 GMC Yukon and Yukon XL; 2016 Volkswagen Tiguan.

Mainstream Large Cars
2016 Buick LaCrosse; 2016 Chevrolet Impala

Mainstream Midsize Cars
2016 Buick Regal; 2016 Chevrolet Malibu; 2016 Honda Accord; 2016 Hyundai Sonata; 2016 Volkswagen Passat

Mainstream Small Cars
2016 Chevrolet Cruze and Spark; 2016 Honda Civic; 2017 Hyundai Elantra; 2017 Kia Forte5; 2017 Mitsubishi Mirage; 2016 Volkswagen Beetle, Golf, GTI and Jetta.

Pickup Trucks
2016 Chevrolet Colorado and Silverado; 2016 GMC Canyon and Sierra; 2017 Honda Ridgeline

Electric and Hybrid Cars
2016 Cadillac ELR; 2016 Chevrolet Volt and 2017 Bolt

Android Auto Availability

Luxury Cars
2017 Audi A4; 2016 Cadillac ATS, CTS, CT6 and XTS; Volvo S90 and V90

Luxury SUVs
2017 Audi Q7; 2016 Cadillac Escalade and 2017 XT5; Volvo XC90

Sports Cars
2016 Chevrolet Camaro and Corvette

Mainstream SUVs and Minivans
2017 Buick Envision and Encore; 2016 Chevrolet Tahoe and Suburban; 2017 Ford Escape; 2016 GMC Yukon, Yukon XL and 2017 Acadia; 2016 Hyundai Tucson and Santa Fe; 2016 Kia Sportage, Sorento and Sedona; 2016 Volkswagen Tiguan

Mainstream Large Cars
2016 Buick LaCrosse; 2016 Chevrolet Impala; 2016 Hyundai Azera and Genesis; 2016 Kia Cadenza

Mainstream Midsize Cars
2016 Buick Regal; 2016 Chevrolet Malibu; 2016 Honda Accord; 2016 Hyundai Sonata; 2016 Kia Optima; 2016 Volkswagen Passat

Mainstream Small Cars
2016 Chevrolet Cruze and Spark; 2016 Honda Civic; 2016 Hyundai Elantra and Veloster; 2016 Kia Forte and Soul; 2017 Mitsubishi Mirage; 2016 Volkswagen Beetle, Golf and Jetta

Pickup Trucks
2016 Chevrolet Colorado and Silverado; 2016 GMC Canyon and Sierra

Electric and Hybrid Cars
2016 Cadillac ELR; 2016 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid; 2016 Kia Optima Hybrid

Apple CarPlay: As Tested

This writer has used Apple CarPlay and found it works as advertised. The one challenge encountered came when sending voice messages, as the system requires speaking slowly and clearly to avoid mistakes. If you worry about perfect English, then fixing the problem on the go is in and of itself a distraction.

A March 2014 CNN article expressed concern about CarPlay’s potential “cognitive distraction.” The problem is that a driver’s mind might wander while using the system, even if his or her eyes are on the road.

As with other vehicle connectivity features, it is important to exercise caution when using Apple CarPlay and Android Auto since distractions are always possible.

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