Everything you need to know about Apple CarPlay

It can be hard to keep up with all the new, infotainment system upgrades car manufacturers implement into their new cars. But recently, one slightly more notable change has been seeping into new cars from several different manufacturers. That’s Apple CarPlay.

CarPlay is basically a system that allows you to turn the screen in the center of your dashboard into a nearly full-fledged Apple device. Pretty much all you need is a car that supports it and a recent model iPhone.

We took a look at what separates CarPlay from all the infotainment tech that’s already out there.

It's easy to use.

Daimler

To start using CarPlay in a supported car, all you have to do is make sure your iPhone is running iOS 7.1 or newer software, plug your lightning cable into the car's USB port or connect your phone to the car via Bluetooth, and confirm CarPlay from the car's infotainment screen. From there, your car's center screen should basically turn into a horizontally placed, feature-limited iPad.

Controls are pretty much like every other iOS device. A Home button-looking sort of touch button appears on the screen and the rest of the user interface feels the same as well.

Siri has found its home.

Buick

Even in 2016, it can be pretty awkward holding your phone up to your mouth to talk to a computer-generated voice like Siri. People either look at you and say, 'Wow that guy can't be bothered to just type out his message?' Or they might point and say 'Who's that guy even talking to?'

If they're not saying it, trust me, they're thinking it.

CarPlay with Siri is pretty much seamless. You can ask her to do almost anything that you can ask her to do on your phone, only with CarPlay, it feels more right. Just press a button -- either the voice control button on your car's steering wheel, or hold the home button on the screen -- and start talking. If you own an iPhone 6S or 6S Plus, or the new iPhone SE, you can just say 'Hey Siri' and start talking.

There's a decent selection of third-party apps you can use, in addition to Apple's apps.

Buick

Though you don't have Apple's whole App Store behind CarPlay just yet, there are a bunch of apps that can be used with Apple CarPlay through your iPhone.

Unfortunately the only one that truly matters, Waze, is not yet available. For that you might have to try Android Auto.

It will read your texts to you.

Apple

Your text messages won't show up on the screen, but it Siri will happily read them to you. This can be nice, as long as those texts aren't too, um, personal, and you don't have other people in the car.

Currently, the only messaging that CarPlay supports is iMessage. Apps like WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger have not yet been integrated.

It uses Apple Maps.

Buick

Apple Maps is no Waze, but it's surely better than a lot of the other laggy, in-car navigation systems automakers provide.

With Maps on CarPlay, there's a feature called 'Nearby' that helps you find useful and interesting points of interest. If you need to find food, gas, or something fun to do, this can be an extremely helpful tool.

It's already in a ton of cars.

Apple

Apple has said that CarPlay is already a feature in over 100 cars, and that number is bound to grow.

If you're looking to see if your new car is equipped with CarPlay, you can check here.

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