A few days ago, consumer electronics giant Apple unveiled its latest innovation to the world at the Geneva International Motor Show. Known as CarPlay, this telematic system enables drivers to integrate their iPhone smartphones with cars that have the CarPlay system built into them.

Apple CarPlayOriginally called “iOS in the car”, this new innovation was first announced to the world back in June 2013 at Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference, but it has only been officially released in March 2014.

According to the Cupertino firm, CarPlay will be available in a number of car models at some point this year from Ferrari, Honda, Hyundai, Mercedes-Benz and Volvo, with other major car manufacturers to announce details of integrations with their new models in 2015.

How does CarPlay work?

Apple CarPlay enables you to simply connect a supported iPhone running iOS 7.1 or newer (basically, the iPhone 5, 5C and 5S), and then use a number of the smartphone’s functions using voice commands via Siri, the phone’s intelligent personal assistant which you communicate with vocally.

The idea behind CarPlay was to have an exclusive built-in Apple iPhone integration solution with a number of cars from different manufacturers, negating the need to invest in a number of third-party proprietary devices and accessories.

There are two other ways that you can control the CarPlay system aside from the Siri voice-command solution:

  • By touch – some car manufacturers will be implementing the CarPlay system with a touchscreen display;

  • By using dials or controls – CarPlay can also be used with cars that have knobs, dials or buttons that are hooked up to the system.

However, the emphasis on CarPlay is for users to control the system using Siri, which is a less-distracting way of communicating with it as it means you don’t have to take your eyes off the road.

There aren’t any firm release dates as yet other than 2014/2015, but you can be sure that future cars sold at dealerships such as Sandles Car Supermarket will most likely start including this innovative new system.

Phone

The main selling point of CarPlay is the fact that you can control the system for the purposes of making and receiving calls. You can simply tell Siri what to do, and it performs the actions for you.

Sound is routed through the car’s speakers much like the same way a traditional handsfree kit is, whilst built-in microphones relay your voice to the other party in your conversation.

Messages

Perhaps a little controversial but apparently safe because of the use of spoken commands, you can even tell Siri to read out text messages to you that your iPhone has received, or compose and send new ones to your contacts.

Maps

Another handy feature of CarPlay in cars with touchscreen displays is that you can use the Maps app for the purposes of satellite navigation. Now you don’t need to use a separate sat-nav device, because it’s built into the car!

Using Siri, you can command the Maps app to direct you to any specific destination, or even to an address linked to someone in your contacts list; I guess you could always ask Siri to take you home if you’re somewhere unfamiliar!

Music

You can also command Siri to play your favourite tracks using iTunes or a third-party app such as Spotify. Now you don’t need to carry around a bunch of CDs anymore!