What is Apple CarPlay?

Connecting your phone to your car has never been easier! We no longer rely on Sat Navs or Bluetooth headsets to connect or navigate on the go. Nearly all car manufacturers in the world now offer car to phone connectivity. Whether you are an Apple or Android phone owner, you can rest assured you’ll be able to mirror your device onto your car’s infotainment system. 

For the Apple iPhone fans amongst you, continue reading to find out what Apple CarPlay is, how it works and how to set it up correctly. We’ll also tell you which electric cars have Apple CarPlay as standard (spoiler alert – it’s basically all of them!). 

What is Apple CarPlay?

Apple CarPlay is an Apple application, which enables drivers to seamlessly connect and control their iOS device to their car’s infotainment system. It’s available on all Apple iPhone models from the iPhone 5, with iOS 7.1 or later. It’s a really great way to easily sync up your phone with your car’s system, so you can listen to your music, make calls and use maps to navigate.

When in use, it displays a simplified version of your iPhone on your car’s screen – in a more driver friendly way. It gives you access to some key apps such as Google Maps, Spotify and WhatsApp – so you can manage these without using your phone. When activated, your phone’s screen will be non-functional – simply displaying the CarPlay logo to help you avoid temptation.

One of the great benefits of connecting via Apple CarPlay is that you can use the Siri voice assistant to use the system hands-free. This can be done by pressing the voice recognition button (usually found on the steering wheel or infotainment system) and speaking to it, to activate some of the basic functions such as: ‘call Helen ‘ or ‘play next song‘.

Close up of Apple CarPlay on a car screen

How does Apple CarPlay work?

Just like Android Auto, Apple CarPlay works by connecting your phone to your car either by Bluetooth (the most common method) or using a physical cable such as a Lightening to USB.

Peugeot e-2008 parked on street

How to use Apple CarPlay

There are several ways you can use Apple CarPlay. Simply connect then enjoy the following features:

Music control

  • Switch between Radio & Spotify
  • Use Siri to play your favourite track on Spotify or podcast on Audible.

Messaging and calling

  • Use Siri to read and reply to messages on the go. If you get a message, you can ask Siri to read it out loud for you. Plus you can ask Siri to reply for you as well. Hands-free, just using your voice
  • You can also ask Siri to call a contact and answer incoming calls.


  • Prefer to use Google Maps or Waze? No problem! Connect via CarPlay and ask Siri to direct you to your destination.
Peugeot e-2008 parked on street

How to connect to Apple CarPlay

Using wireless Apple CarPlay

  • Open your iPhone’s ‘Settings’ app, find Bluetooth and then find your car – it’ll be named something like “VW Polo” or “Tesla Model 3” for example, depending on which car you have
  • Connect your phone to the car – it may ask you to confirm a password (which your car’s infotainment system will present on screen)
  • To load Apple CarPlay on your car, find the Apple CarPlay app on your car’s infotainment system. Tap it and it’ll stop you using your mobile and mirror your phone’s apps onto your car infotainment screen
  • And that’s it! You’re good to go.

To improve the experience even further, set up using Siri (on compatible cars)

  • Make sure Siri is turned on. You can find this within Settings, Siri & Search
  • Follow the same steps as above.

There are usually three ways you can use Siri to control CarPlay

  • Press & hold the voice command button, usualy found on the steering wheel. Then ask Siri to do something – Turn it up!
  • Press & hold the Google CarPlay button on your infotainment touchscreen. Then ask Siri to do something – Next song please!
  • Or, if your car supports ‘Hey Siri’ you don’t need to press anything. Just check it’s turned on in your car settings, then simply say Hey Siri any time you want to control your system.

Using wired Apple CarPlay

If your car doesn’t accept wireless connections, you can still connect to Apple CarPlay, you’ll just need a Lightning to USB cable!

  • Using a USB Lightning connector cable, plug your iPhone into your car’s port, this is usually found near to the infotainment system or near your steering wheel
  • Your car should automatically connect up to Apple CarPlay, and have the same functionality as described above.


Electric cars with Apple CarPlay

Most (if not all!) electric cars now come with Apple CarPlay as standard. 

Electric cars with wireless Apple CarPlay include:

  • Audi e-tron 
  • BMW iX and i4
  • FIAT 500e
  • Ford Mustang Mach-E
  • Jeep Avenger
  • Kia Niro EV
  • Porsche Taycan
  • And Volkswagen ID.3 & ID.4
A Kia EV9 concept parked at a snowy glacier.

Electric car apps

We dive into some of the best EV orientated apps you can get for your smartphone.

Peugeot e-2008 exterior, front view

What is Android Auto?

Find out how to connect your Android device to your car, via Android Auto

Any Questions?

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Email us at hello@elmodrive.com

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