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Trying out CarPlay

Discussion in 'Apple' started by Nelson Au, Jun 23, 2019.

  1. Nelson Au

    Nelson Au Executive Producer

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    Hey guys-

    I have a 2001 BMW 330ci, so it’s old and was one year before iPod, let alone Bluetooth connectivity. I do currently use a third party connectivity product from Dice that connects to the CD changer connections in the trunk. It ties an iPod to the factory sound system, no iPhone support. I installed this back in 2005. It’s been working great ever since. Now the factory head unit, while still working and sounding fine, has a failed display. It’s just displaying gibberish, so I can’t see what track is playing or the radio stations and artist and album info on the iPod.

    With that said, my 3 series is currently in the BMW dealership shop for service work. So I have a brand new 4 series GranCoupe loaner car. This car has CarPlay capability so I tried it. Though I couldn’t get my iPhone X to connect via the USB cable, I was able to connect via Bluetooth. Since my car is 18 years old, this is all new and didn’t take too long to get my head around.

    I went to a birthday party last night, so I used the navigation function in CarPlay to get to where I was going. I was listening to music from my iPhone music library too. It works pretty well! I could even see a reply from a text I sent before I got in the car. A coworker with a new BMW said he likes it, but it does take over the BMW’s own infotainment. I could see that from my experience. If I wanted to listen to FM radio, then I’d have to navigate out of CarPlay and back to the radio function. This was a good experience and I’m really curious to see the new version of CarPlay that Apple revealed at the Keynote at the Developer Conference.

    By the way, the loaner car was a good tool for the dealership to entice customers to buy a new car, by getting a chance to experience a new model!

    It is convenient that the car recognizes and automatically connects to my iPhone X via Bluetooth when I get near it and in the car. I just don’t feel confident when I leave the car, the iPhone is actually disconnected from the car or the radio is actually off. ( even if I turn off the radio, the iPhone is still playing music. When I use my Airpods, I know when they are connected or not. It seems the iPhone and car might be behaving the same way, I am behind as far as the latest car infotainment technology as I’ve mainly driven the same car for 18 years!

    I still really love my e46 3 series. I’ve been looking at a new head unit from a company called Dynavin to replace my factory single din radio. They have a double din unit that fits my car and would have a large touch screen with the capabilities of modern sound systems with Apple iOS or Android connectivity. A back-up camera option is also available. I would move the HVAC controls to a lower factory location to get the double din space. It also has an option to add a module to give it CarPlay functionality. A real BMW factory trim piece is offered to trim out the HVAC controls. It would be really nice to retrofit my older car with the modern functionality of the new cars.

    I’d be curious about others who might have or use CarPlay. And or others who might have upgraded their audio systems. The Dynavin unit is not the only option, but the main option I see a lot of e46 BMW owners install with mostly positive reviews and great results. I just worry about potential problems with functionally and a company that’s not a well known one. I believe it’s a German company and the current model they offer is the third or fourth generation, each adding upgraded functions and improvements. The USA dealer of this unit does frequently answer questions on the BMW forums, so that shows he’s supporting the unit. Thanks.
     
  2. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Founder
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    I am a little surprised by your experience with CarPlay as opposed to mine.

    I have a new 2019 Lincoln MKX.

    The only way I can connect to Carplay is when I have a wired connection to my iPhone. CarPlay will not work via Bluetooth. In fact, unless I am misreading your post, I am surprised you were able to bring up CarPlay wirelessly.

    However, BMG has some great tech and perhaps things have advanced. If that is the case, ignore the next paragraph:

    If you are using your iPhone in any vehicle without a direct connection, you can certainly connect the phone Bluetooth but everything will be controlled using the manufacturer's head unit without CarPlay intervention.

    I am sure you also know that a direct connection produces much better audio quality than a Bluetooth stream.


    Getting back to Carplay itself...

    Yes, CarPlay does take over your entire vehicle's infotainment system. And, yes, I experience the same frustration that in order to listen to a radio or CD you have to exit out of the entire app to do so. CarPlay does not have access to those functions.

    Before the introduction of iOS 13, I would have said I much prefer the manufacturer's infotainment system. But with the new improved CarPlay, there are some great new features introduced including album art that displays when as the song is playing, plus a great home screen that puts your navigation, calendar (reminders) and music all in individual module spaces that are just a touch away.

    You definitely want CarPlay with its ability to notify you of new phone and text messages and the ability to respond to them directly through the vehicle microphone while driving.
     
  3. Nelson Au

    Nelson Au Executive Producer

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    Ron, thanks for chiming in.

    Yes, I was as surprised as you that I could connect to CarPlay via Bluetooth. From what I had been reading, the only way to connect to CarPlay is via cable connection. The Dynavin unit I am looking at can only connect CarPlay to the iPhone via a cable. There was a BMW connection app I needed to have to connect to the BMW via the cable as far as I could tell. I tried to set it up, but it was asking for a PIN and at that point, since this is a loaner car, I didn’t want to go that far.

    Thanks for reporting that the sound is not as good via Bluetooth. I certainly felt underwhelmed by the audio quality, so this explains that!

    In the BMW, with CarPlay working, I could control it by select the music app or map app via the car’s controls or the car’s touch screen. I even pulled over to the side of the road and sent a text from the iPhone while CarPlay was still engaged.

    So I don’t know how to reconcile that CarPlay requires a USB cable connection, but I was able to do it via Bluetooth.

    I’m definitely curious to see how CarPlay will look and feel with iOS 13. So this feels like the right time to upgrade my car’s audio system with a new head unit that can have CarPlay capability.
     
  4. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Founder
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    Now that I have put more thought to this thread, I now seem to have remembered an article talking about wireless Carplay coming into existence.

    At the time, I had a 2019 Honda Accord with a wireless charger. I didn't like the fact that I had to keep my phone wired to use CarPlay.

    I would *think* that you would want it wired for playing music just for the bump in quality. Other than that, I must admit, it is awfully convenient to have wireless availability.

    Whatever you do, Nelson, you want CarPlay in whatever you purchase. It's an absolute necessity. I love the fact I can set my destination on my iPhone, plug it into the car, and the navigation already knows where I want to go. That being said, Apple Maps is not my favorite navigation tool. I still prefer the vehicle's navigation.
     
  5. Message #5 of 42 Jun 23, 2019
    Last edited: Jun 23, 2019
    Cranston37

    Cranston37 Screenwriter

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    I've had wireless CarPlay in my Hyundai Elantra GT since last summer. The wireless unit creates a wi-fi network for your car - that's how you are connecting to it.

    FWIW - when I do connect via USB to charge my phone, I do not notice a change in audio quality.

    This is the unit I use (came out in 2017)...

    https://www.crutchfield.com/p_500ILX107/Alpine-ILX-107.html

    One tip - don't bother using your car controls or touchscreen or iPhone for anything - just use Siri!
     
  6. Nelson Au

    Nelson Au Executive Producer

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    I will for sure be getting CarPlay in the headunit I’ll install in my car Ron! It has been pretty cool for the short time I’ve been trying it.

    Cranston- I forgot about using Siri, I’ll try that on my commute to work tomorrow! And I checked out the unit in your link. Thanks for that!
     
  7. Rodney

    Rodney Screenwriter
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    One of the first things I ask for when I pickup my rental car is "Does it have CarPlay?" and if it doesn't I ask for a vehicle that does.

    I only wish my 2015 Explorer had the capability. I'm really tempted to replace the Sync 2 in the vehicle to one of the newer Sync 3's from later models, but having trouble getting the WAF on the purchase.
     
  8. Message #8 of 42 Jun 23, 2019
    Last edited: Jun 23, 2019
    Cranston37

    Cranston37 Screenwriter

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    Another tip, regarding needing to back out of CarPlay to access radio -

    If you use apps like iHeartRadio, TuneIn and Radio.com you can access stations through those instead. Better quality too.
     
  9. Nelson Au

    Nelson Au Executive Producer

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    Thanks Cranston. It will be a few months before I buy and install the new head unit in my car. I look forward to all these new features to use in my old car!

    One last question, I doubt you guys will know for sure, but I get the sense that CarPlay capability in a car infotainment system is a conduit for the iPhone. It’s really the iPhone talking to the headunit. So when iOS 13 comes out, the older car’s with existing CarPlay capability will be able to still work and display the new iOS interface.
     
  10. Cranston37

    Cranston37 Screenwriter

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    Yes. Your phone is doing everything and the screen is just showing it. When your phone gets an update, the CarPlay experience gets updated.
     
  11. Nelson Au

    Nelson Au Executive Producer

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    Thanks! That’s great to know!

    About the wireless question, I wonder if at some point Airplay could be used to connect, like a HomePod. But then a car would need to have its own WiFi. The new cars are rolling computers now. :)
     
  12. Message #12 of 42 Jun 23, 2019
    Last edited: Jun 23, 2019
    DaveF

    DaveF Moderator
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  13. DaveF

    DaveF Moderator
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    How about Google Maps? It’s been supported as of last Fall with iOS 12.
     
  14. DaveF

    DaveF Moderator
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    I love CarPlay, but it’s still flakey. I travel and drive rentals one to three weeks a month. I’m getting CarPlay more often, but it’s not quite a given. Probably half the cars there’s some difficulty getting CarPlay to see my iPhone and connect and run. A recent rental it kept crashing and losing connection while driving. I’ve also seen the system, particularly maps, freeze up and require a phone disconnect. And I’ve yet to encounter wireless.

    That said, I love its functionality. I don’t listen to the radio. I think CarPlay is so much better than any car infotainment UI I’ve seen, and I’ve seen a good number.

    But my Subaru is a year too old and doesn’t have CarPlay. So, wishing I could upgrade to get CarPlay, and annoyed Tesla doesn’t support it, because I want to go electric.
     
  15. Clinton McClure

    Clinton McClure Casual Enthusiast
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    I would have to argue that most of that is the fault of bad head unit design and poor CarPlay integration. It’s well know that the infotainment system in most cars isn’t very good. My head unit is an aftermarket Sony that handles CarPlay better than most, if not all, stock infotainment head units. It was also one of the highest rated aftermarket head units before being replaced by a newer model. I have had CarPlay since last fall and have only had one instance of a podcast quitting mid-stream and locking up all CarPlay functions. It was frustrating when it happened because I was driving and still about a half hour from work but in the grand scheme of things, it’s not a big deal. That’s one instance out of the probably 400 hours I have spent behind the wheel with music, a podcast, or a phone call utilizing CarPlay.
     
  16. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Founder
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    For the most part, I was not impressed with CarPlay as it stands now. It's extremely generic looking despite the fact that some feel it's superior to their car's infotainment system.

    However, that being said, the new iteration in iOS 13 is night and day. It really modernizes the experience. I think once all of you upgrade your phones (or start using the public beta) you are going to be in for a nice surprise.
     
  17. Cranston37

    Cranston37 Screenwriter

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    The one thing iOS 13 fixes that absolutely drives me insane in the current version - it will no longer change what's on the CarPlay screen when you use your phone. That was always terrible UI.
     
  18. Nelson Au

    Nelson Au Executive Producer

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    I tried asking Siri to play an album this morning and it worked!

    I’m so used to Siri not being able to play an album or song in my iTunes library to the HomePod since I don’t use Apple Music. But glad to see the Siri in CarPlay can play music from my library in the iPhone.

    I’ll have to try asking Siri to do other things like directions.
     
  19. Scott Merryfield

    Scott Merryfield Executive Producer

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    Some interesting differences between CarPlay and Android Auto, which I use with my 2018 GMC Acadia and my wife's new 2019 Buick Encore. I cannot get navigation or audio streaming via wireless -- only via a wired connection. I do get interaction with the phone for calls and texts via bluetooth, though. Also, AA does not take over the infotainment display like you guys are describing with CarPlay -- I can still play music from my installed USB thumb drive, or play the radio, while using AA for Google Maps or Waze navigation. I can switch the display between showing the navigation map and what music is playing without interrupting anything.

    One thing I'll say -- Google Map via Android Auto blows away the built-in navigation system in my wife's Encore. I tried her navigation system last weekend for an hour+ trip across town, and the routing wanted to take my through a construction zone that Google avoiding when I checked on my PC. Also, there is no voice commands for searching for places, like with Google Maps on AA -- everything must be entered via the touchscreen. The built-in navigation requires a SiriusXM subscription for traffic data, too, while Google Maps gives that info (and speed traps) for free. GM also will list locations that are in my Google Calendar.

    I didn't want the built-in navigation, but it was the only way we could find a model at year end with a sunroof -- the two items are part of a bundle.
     
  20. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Founder
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    You can use Google Maps Navigation in CarPlay which is something I wish to try at some point as well as Waze.
     

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