Such is the rise of in-car smartphone integration we’re starting to suspect it won’t be long before an app turns your daily transport into a full-size remote control car. But that’s not what Apple Carplay means in this context. At least, not yet.
Instead, for the time being it’s all about the battle between Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android (and to a lesser extent, Microsoft’s catchily entitled Windows Phone) for control of your automotive infotainment experience.
Apple Carplay and Android Auto are already starting to appear as OEM equipment, with Ferrari, Audi and Volvo leading the way. Now you can also upgrade your older car to similar levels of sophistication, thanks to the arrival of the first aftermarket solutions, promised since May 2014.
How to get Apple Carplay in an older car
Pioneer is first into the fray with a selection of double-din sized head units that are fully Carplay compatible. Pricing starts at £350 for the SPA-DA120 (plus fitting and whatever adaptors you need to make the device correctly slot into your car’s dash).
For that you get total control of your iPhone via a large touchscreen interface that’s designed to make life easier when you’re driving. This includes turning Apple Maps into an integrated satnav, and using Siri for voice control over the nav, text messages and telephone calls.
You’ll need an iPhone 5 or newer for Carplay to work, though, and to provide your own Lightning to USB cable. An additional cable accessory allows Android phone users to benefit from voice recognition, while Mirrorlink capability offers further functionality for some Samsung and Nokia phones. Various music services are supported, such as iTunes Radio, podcasts and Spotify.
Alpine is also set to launch Carplay compatible head units this autumn, and others will surely follow; full Android Auto alternatives are still to be confirmed at this stage.
Apple Carplay vs Android: the smartphone hits the road