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What is wireless Apple CarPlay and how do I get it in my car?

By Tim Robson, 02 Dec 2019 Car Advice

What is wireless Apple CarPlay and how do I get it?

Remember when hands-free phones were a thing? Soon you can hop into a wide range of cars and Apple CarPlay will just… connect

If you’re part of the Apple architecture, then you’ll probably already know about – or even use – Apple’s intuitive CarPlay system, which allows a user to mirror a select group of Apple apps onto their car’s multimedia screen.

Apple CarPlay apps include Apple Maps, Google Maps, the alternate mapping service Waze, music streaming service Spotify, WhatsApp, voice-to-text messaging and more.

Currently, an Apple CarPlay head unit requires the user to simply plug a phone into a USB port in their car to activate the CarPlay apps, but there’s a movement afoot across the industry to make Apple CarPlay wireless.

Read more: new Apple CarPlay iOS 13 reviewed

What’s Apple CarPlay, and how does wireless Apple CarPlay work? Well… you hop in your car, hit ‘CarPlay’ on the head unit and it… just works. The system uses a combination of WiFi, cellular and Bluetooth reception to stream to your compatible multimedia system.

BMW was the first car company to offer the service, even though it inexplicably decided to charge end users a subscription fee for a service that every other carmaker provides for free. The company is reportedly looking to drop the fee.

iPhone Android smartphone mirroring

Other carmakers joining the wireless Apple CarPlay revolution include Audi, which debuted the system aboard the latest A6, while fellow VW Group brand Volkswagen has also indicated that it’ll roll the wireless CarPlay system out on the Golf Mk8.

Volkswagen expects other vehicles to be updated within 12-18 months, with passenger cars such as the Tiguan, Golf and Touareg in the firing line. It will also encompass the new T-Roc and T-Cross that are due in May 2020.

Read more: Google's next move - is Apple CarPlay officially over?

There are some exceptions to Volkswagen’s wireless CarPlay rollout, mainly on the commercial vehicle side of the business. The Amarok ute is not expected to pick up wireless CarPlay any time soon, for example.

New Apple CarPlay reviewed

Mercedes-Benz, meanwhile, will add wireless CarPlay functionality to its MBUX system, which launched with 2018’s A-Class update.

Ford has also released news that its forthcoming SYNC4 system update will offer wireless CarPlay, though there is no visibility about Australian availability just yet.

If your car is still a few years away from an update, it’s possible to buy an Apple CarPlay head unit aftermarket in order to access the service.

Read more: How to get Apple CarPlay for your old car

Companies like Pioneer offer Apple CarPlay stereos that will offer the wireless service.

In case you’re wondering, CarPlay is compatible with the iPhone 5, the iPhone 5C, iPhone 5S, iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, the iPhone 6S and iPhone 6S Plus, the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus, the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus, the iPhone X, the iPhone XS and XS Max, and the iPhone XR.

Contributing – Toby Hagon

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