Integrated rather secretively into iOS 7.1, CarPlay gives a better hands-on experience when driving, working with the car's built-in display to help you find directions, send and receive calls and text messages, control music, and more—without having to fumble around with your small iPhone.
Finally, the feature is being put to use.
At the forefront of features will be navigation, music, phone calls, and text messages, existing as large icons on the dashboard in your car that should make selecting options easier while in the driver's seat.
In addition, third-party app support that compliment the more important features will be implemented in the future, with Beats Music and Spotify being just a few of the apps already onboard.
Using all of these features will require interacting with Siri, as well as using the knobs, buttons, and touchscreen in the car designed specifically to work with CarPlay—all depending on the model of your vehicle.
With Maps, you'll get the turn-by-turn directions, traffic conditions and estimated time of arrival—all the features that you're accustomed to on your mobile iOS device, except with a much more car-friendly interface.
Using Siri, she'll be able to read, reply, and send text messages for you, with zero need to touch your phone.
Finally, when it comes to music, you'll be able to tell Siri which artist, album, or song you want to play from your music library, as well as third-party music apps like Spotify, Beats Music, and iHeartRadio.
In love with the features that CarPlay has to offer?
Well, you'll have to wait just a little bit more. Apple is looking to roll out CarPlay with only a limited amount of players later this year, in vehicles by Honda, Hyundai, Mercedes-Benz, Volvo, and Ferrari.
Thirteen other car makers have signed up for future integration, including BMW, Toyota, Ford, Jaguar, Land Rover, and Nissan, but who knows when that will be.
Is your car manufacturer of choice not on the list? Don't worry. Apple is also working with car stereo makers Alpine and Pioneer to enable aftermarket head units that will support CarPlay, so you could effectively have a CarPlay unit in the car you already own.
How CarPlay will compete with the Google sponsored Open Automotive Alliance is still up in the air. Many of CarPlay's partners are also involved with the OAA, but Apple is clearly trying to skew the market towards their products by being first to integration (although Android-powered head units are nothing new). Only time will tell, but with car head units, wearables, and of course smartphones and tablets, it looks like the Apple vs. Android "holy war" may just be getting started.
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