This episode of Featured App of the Week offers an introduction to Apple CarPlay (iPhone) and Android Auto (Android-based smartphones), which are features that allow you to safely use your smartphone in your vehicle while you're driving.
As always, thanks for listening!
Featured App of the Week – Episode #36
Welcome back to the Featured App of the Week podcast. I’m Jason Rich.
If you have an Apple iPhone and you drive a car that’s a 2016 model year or later, chances are your vehicle is CarPlay compatible. What this means in that your smartphone can communicate directly with the infotainment system that’s built into your vehicle’s dashboard, allowing you to access iPhone functions, apps, and information while you’re driving - without having to take your eyes off the road.
Apple has teamed up with dozens of popular car manufacturers from all over the world in an effort to make more than 500 vehicle models CarPlay compatible.
Meanwhile, if you’re an Android smartphone user, built into your mobile device’s operating system is Android Auto, which works very much like CarPlay, also on more than 500 vehicles from numerous car manufacturers.
What’s a little confusing is that every car manufacturer takes advantage of CarPlay and/or Android Auto compatibility in a slightly different way.
Some vehicles rely on a Bluetooth wireless connection between the smartphone and the vehicle.
Once the smartphone is paired with your vehicle once, it automatically reconnects every time you get back into your car. Other cars, however, require that you plug the smartphone into the USB port that’s built into your car in order to establish a connection. This is done using a regular USB cable that’s compatible with your smartphone.
After the connection is made, your smartphone takes control over the touchscreen that’s built into your car’s dashboard. At this point, you’re also able to use voice commands to access the Siri on an iPhone, or the Google Assistant on an Android device. This is done pressing the appropriate button on your steering wheel or using the phrase “Hey Siri” or “Hey Google” to get the voice assistant’s attention.
In addition to controlling the Phone app to make and receive calls and transform your vehicle into a speaker phone for hands-free communication, you’re able to send and receive text messages or email messages while you’re driving – again, without touching your smartphone or looking at its screen.
When a new text message or email is received, you can ask Siri or Google Assistant to read the incoming message aloud. You can also compose an outgoing text message or email as a reply or from scratch by verbally dictating it. Siri or Google Assistant will transcribe what you say into text and send it via the appropriate app.
Using the Apple Podcasts app on an iPhone, or Google Podcasts on an Android device, you’re able to find, stream, and listen to your favorite podcasts via your smartphone’s cellular data Internet connection, but play the audio through your vehicle’s stereo system.
CarPlay also works extremely well with the Music app or Apple Music service on an iPhone, while Google Music works on an Android-based smartphone. Use voice commands or touchscreen taps on your vehicle’s dashboard screen to select, play, and control your favorite music and playlists while you’re driving.
If you manage your appointments using the Calendar app, it’s easy to access details about your upcoming appointments and events via Siri or Google Assistant while driving, or have this information displayed on your vehicle’s dashboard screen. These apps can then share appointment addresses with the Maps app to help you get to your next appointment with ease.
In addition, just about any question you would normally ask Siri or Google Assistant while using your smartphone works while you’re driving, so you can request weather forecasts, sports scores, stock market updates, or obtain answers to questions that you pose.
What’s nice about CarPlay and the iOS 14 edition of the iPhone’s operating system is that more and more third-party apps now support CarPlay functionality.
You’re able to control these optional apps using Siri, your vehicle’s dashboard touchscreen, or the knobs on your vehicle’s stereo system, for example. Again, the goal is to give you safe access to your favorite apps while you’re driving your vehicle. This is also true when using Google Assistant and Android Auto on your Android-based smartphone.
Many radio station, radio network, and third-party podcast-related apps, such as: iHeartRadio, Stitcher, CBS Radio, Pandora, NPR One, Google Play Music, Amazon Music, and SiriusXM Radio also now work seamlessly with CarPlay and Android Auto. These apps are all available from the App Store or Google Play Store, although some require a paid subscription via an in-app purchase in order to access all of the compatible programming.
If you’re someone who enjoys listening to audiobooks, the optional Audible or Audiobooks.com app gives you access to thousands of audiobooks from your favorite authors, which are offered via in-app purchases. You can also acquire audiobooks on your iPhone using Apple Books, and then listen to them using the Books app.
All of these apps that I just mentioned can be used anywhere and anytime on your smartphone, and you can pick up exactly where you left off and listen to your favorite audio content in your car, through your car’s stereo system, when CarPlay or Android Auto is activated.
CarPlay and Android Auto also take full advantage of the Maps app that’s built into your smartphone.
Since some people prefer using other navigation apps, besides your smartphone’s built-in Maps app, you can visit the App Store or Google Play Store, and then download and install third-party apps, like Google Maps, TomTom, and Waze, which work seamlessly with CarPlay or Android Auto.
For iPhone users, starting with select 2021 car models from BMW, for example, your iPhone can also serve as your digital car key. It’s expected that additional car manufacturers will begin implementing this feature in the near future. Meanwhile, the proprietary apps for other car makers, like Subaru, allow you to remotely unlock or lock your vehicle, and turn on the ignition via your smartphone, but in some cases, a vehicle upgrade or subscription fee is required.
To learn more about what’s possible using CarPlay and your iPhone, plus determine if your vehicle is compatible with CarPlay functionality, visit Apple’s website at: www.apple.com/ios/carplay.
If you’re an Android mobile device user, check out: www.android.com/auto for more information about Android Auto and the third-party apps that are compatible with it.
That’s it for this edition of Featured App of the Week. If you found this information useful, please tell your friends about the podcast, publish a positive review, and don’t forget to subscribe.
Also, please listen to the past episodes of Featured App of the Week to learn about lots of additional ways you can use your Apple iPhone, iPad, or Android-based mobile device in new and useful ways.
Until next time, I’m Jason Rich. Thanks for listening!