Apple updates iOS 14 with CarPlay enhancements

Published: 22 September 2020

► iOS 14 revealed
► The iPhone becomes a key
► More customisation 

Apple has finally released its iOS 14 update for iPhone users, highlighting several changes and key features for the smartphone. But more importantly, there are a few changes regarding how your phone interacts with your car.

First of all, Apple is honouring its promise to develop the iPhone as a digital car key. The first manufacturer to sign onto the new tech is BMW which will roll out the feature ahead of wider adoption by other car makers in 2021.

What is Apple CarKey?

Apple CarKey can unlock, lock and start a car in just a few taps. The ‘key-free’ feature uses Near Field Communication (NFC) tech and is activated in the same way that you use Apple Pay – by double-tapping the lock button.

Users can set various restrictions such as the amount of access granted or enable restricted driving in the settings, and digital key access can even be shared over iMessage with to up to five trusted family members or friends. 

Apple CarPlay: what you need to know

The next change on a laundry list full of enhancements is the addition of wallpapers to the Apple CarPlay home screen. Users are now able to upload a number of backgrounds to either the home screen or dashboard for a fresh kick of colour and personality – a welcome change to build upon the CarPlay experience.

Custom backgrounds of your own photographs aren’t available just yet, though we imagine it’s only a matter of time before that upgrade is pushed across. Head over to settings to update your dashboard.

More support for third-party apps is also singled out in this iOS 14 update, meaning CarPlay is now able to run EV charging, food-ordering or parking apps, for example.

Also new to CarPlay is the option to send and receive audio messages via iMessage if you want to be slightly more expressive than monotone Siri.

A few other updates come to CarPlay with the update, including the inclusion of Japanese and Chinese keyboards, while portrait-mounted CarPlay screens are now more easily viewed with subtle layout change.