Can you put Apple CarPlay in any car?

Even though most car makers these days spend vast amounts of money on continuously improving their Infotainment systems, using Apple CarPlay still offers you the highest level of phone-to-car integration. Apple CarPlay enables you to use your iOS apps right on the infotainment screen which is a lot convenient than using the car’s built-in system.

Furthermore, most car makers still charge a significant premium if you want satellite navigation even though the system is not nearly as advanced as the ones offered on modern-day iOS and Android devices. As such, it’s only logical to rely on a better system which is also a system you are completely familiarized with.

In order to use Apple CarPlay on your car’s main infotainment screen, you need to buy a car equipped with the system from the factory. If you are stuck with a car that does not offer CarPlay compatibility, you can also go through the aftermarket route in order to enjoy CarPlay functionalities.

Some carmakers enable you to retrofit the CarPlay system if the original owner decided not to option it out from the factory. All it takes is an over-the-air software update, and this is the best route to go for if you want to preserve your car’s interior and you are satisfied with the screen on offer.

Apple CarPlay – Basic functionalities and benefits

Before we dwell on how you can retrofit a CarPlay system in your car, it’s important to know what CarPlay is and what are the benefits of this system. Apple CarPlay is a system designed by Apple which offers you the ability to control your iOS device through your car’s main infotainment system.

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CarPlay enables you to use your smartphone apps right on the center screen which means that you can use apps such as Waze, Google Maps, or Apple Maps rather than relying on the navigation system offered with the car. It’s worth saying that all navigation systems currently available in modern cars are not nearly as advanced as these iOS and Android Apps are.

Besides navigation, you can also use your music streaming apps such as Spotify, Tidal, and so on. It’s way easier to make calls and the entire system is familiar because it resembles your iPhone screen. This means that no matter the car you get into, you are always using the same system.

Aftermarket Apple CarPlay supported systems

If you are using an older car and you are not satisfied with the system available, you can buy an aftermarket head unit that can neatly integrate into your car’s interior and offer you Apple CarPlay and many more functions.

The easiest way to do so is to look for companies that specialize in certain models because they usually know how to integrate the system so it does not look like an afterthought. For example, systems offered by Eonon or Koasan are regarded as the best BMW F30 compatible head units because the system highly resembles the OEM unit.

It’s always best to look for systems that don’t require you to take out your older system which means that these systems can later be removed without anyone knowing about it. Be sure to look for systems that are compatible with your car because some older cars are not equipped with a double-din connection.

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Apple CarPlay software update

Lastly, you can also get Apple CarPlay by simply asking your dealer to install it for you if your car is compatible. For example, if you own a modern-day Mazda model that offers a so-called MZD Connect System, all you have to do is pay $500 and the system will be installed in your car.

This is the cleanest and best route to take if you want the OEM solution. Before you do anything, you need to make sure that your car model is compatible with such upgrades as these upgrades are mostly reserved for newer cars.

Some brands like Tesla regularly carry out all sorts of over-the-air software updates so it’s not uncommon for modern brands to do so. This way you will preserve your car’s original functionalities and take them to the next level which should also work well for the resale value of your car.

FAQ Section

How much does an aftermarket CarPlay system cost?

The answer to this question depends on which car you want to upgrade and how sophisticated the system is. On average, you should expect to pay $300 at the very least, but the best systems for higher-end cars can run anywhere between $500 to even $700. 

The higher the price, the better the screen. This means that you should not expect a responsive high-res screen if you are not willing to pay for it. Another thing to keep in mind is are you satisfied with your infotainment screen anyway, if you are, it’s better to opt for a software update if it’s available.

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Is adding Apple CarPlay worth it?

It depends on how much you value your current system and if you are willing and able to completely utilize the system. Many people prefer using their phones for navigation anyway by sticking it to a purpose-made docking station on the A/C vents or the windshield.

If you constantly used CarPlay on your older car, then it’s worth it, especially if you are used to using a wireless CarPlay system. CarPlay enables you many functions which can technically be achieved by using your phone on itself, but it is way safer and more convenient to use it through the car’s center screen.

How can I connect my phone to these systems?

Initial Apple CarPlay systems were introduced back in 2014, and the only way to connect the phone was by wire. However, many modern cars enable you to connect the phone wirelessly which is way more convenient on a daily basis.

Some aftermarket head units also enable you to connect wirelessly, but these are usually the more expensive ones. Furthermore, if you value a stable connection, be sure to opt for a higher-end system if your car is not already equipped with one.

Marko Mikulic

Why do you love writing about cars? I love writing about cars as cars are a huge personal interest of mine. I was raised in a car enthusiast community and ever since I was young, I always wanted to do car-related work.

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