With the recent change to the law regarding driving while using a mobile phone, the rules have changed and holding a mobile phone when driving can lead to an expensive fine if you are caught. So CarPlay gives you the benefit of using the best bits of your phone when driving and being the right side of the law.

What is CarPlay?

CarPlay enables you to connect your phone to your car so you have access to a special cut down version of your phone’s screen with apps that important to driving, aka the calendar and maps as well as music, podcasts and audio books at your fingertips without having to reach for your phone.

It does mean you have to replace your car stereo with a head unit that has a touch screen interface.

You can also make and receive calls through the head unit and, if you are parked up you can send and receive text messages, WhatsApps and watch video without needing to touch your phone.

Android Auto

Android Auto is the Android version of Apple CarPlay, so you can do the same with Android as you can with Apple.

Mirrorlink and Screen mirroring

Mirrorlink and Screen Mirroring are designed to mirror the display of your mobile phone.

Older versions of Android could interact through the touch screen but this was removed in later versions because when Mirrorlink was used to as a display screen, a hacker could plug in a mouse and take over the host remotely, so in newer versions the screen is now read only.

AirPlay and Bluetooth audio

These are older technologies that enable the playback of audio. Apple AirPlay offers more control over the content than Bluetooth as it is dedicated to music playback and both use Bluetooth to communicate.

Head units

Not all head units work the same way, with the older and cheaper ones offering wired CarPlay, which means you have to use a cable from your phone to use CarPlay which requires you to plug in your phone to your car and remember to unplug it when you leave the car.

The newer and more expensive head units support wireless CarPlay, so you connect initially with Bluetooth which you can check the pairing code with your phone before you connect which adds the wifi details and carries on the connection using wifi.

There are some adapters that turn wired CarPlay into wireless CarPlay but they don’t always work with the head unit (the first head unit I bought didn’t and the second came with wireless and DAB which is an added benefit)

These head units also offer Bluetooth playback and AirPlay. AirPlay has more features and more control than Bluetooth playback but it only handles music, so it uses Bluetooth only.

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