Our ‘16 Buick LaCrosse rental has Apple CarPlay, and tonight, I decided to plug my phone up and test it.
My phone is an iPhone 6 Plus (I got it in early October 2014 - it’s a bit long in the tooth phone-wise). I am an Apple fan, but not fanatically so. Their phones just happen to work for me, so I stick with them. I’ve had an iPhone 4 (for 2.5 years), a 5 (for 2 years), and now my 6 Plus (1.5 years so far).
Now, all that being said, Apple CarPlay is kind of...dumb.
There, I said it. Just had to get that off my chest. For the record, I haven’t used Android Auto but it’s principles are basically the same, so I’d imagine much of what I have to say applies to it as well.
First of all, CarPlay does exactly 3 things my non-CarPlay equipped Mazda6 stereo can’t. Those three things are: reply to a text using voice, open the phone’s map application, and launch the Spotify application. The response via text is apparently a phone issue, as Android devices can send texts via the Mazda stereos.
Otherwise, I can control Pandora, browse the music on my phone, make and receive phone calls, have my texts read to me, and use voice command all without CarPlay. So, what are the benefits?
The nifty interface makes the stereo look like an iPhone (or an Android phone if you’re using Android Auto). The maps integration is excellent and cuts out the need for a car-based navigation system almost entirely (aside from the obvious issue of low or no cell reception areas or times). Other than that, well, I didn’t see much else amazing about it.
It’s also worth noting that during my 10 minute drive, CarPlay glitched twice. Both times involved the “Now Playing” screen freezing up and the stereo producing distorted audio when using the Spotify app. This may be the fault of the Buick “Intellilink” system or the car itself (or my old phone). Who knows.
Another major drawback is that your phone must be connected via USB in order to use CarPlay. My phone rarely leaves my pocket or the storage bin beneath my HVAC controls when I’m in the car, for good reason. It’d be quite annoying to have to plug it into the USB port each and every time I’m in the car if I wanted to continuously use CarPlay. Not to mention that would be hell on the phone’s battery to be charged up so frequently over time.
Conclusion: If I bought a new car that happened to have Apple CarPlay, that would be fine. But would I seek out a car and buy it based on that feature alone? Nope.