CarPlay is something I’ve been following (and using) since it launched it late 2014. It was better than the status quo in many ways when it launched but had obvious room for improvements. iOS 9.3 made significant improvements to CarPlay by including the full Apple Music experience and upgraded Maps features. When iOS 10 debuts later this fall, CarPlay will get even better thanks to a variety of small improvements that add up to simpler experience.
CarPlay already simplifies how you can use your iPhone in the car by reducing the number of apps you can interact with and shushing all notifications except calls, messages, and navigation alerts. Apps like Phone, Messages, and Maps are presented in an optimized user interface on the built-in screen in your car, and entertainment apps like Music and Podcasts let you control audio safely while driving. CarPlay also supports audiobook playback in iBooks, but that’s a feature I’ve never used.
Starting with iOS 10, you can now remove certain apps from the CarPlay screen. Apple’s Audiobooks (iBooks) and Podcasts apps can now be totally removed from the Home screen on CarPlay, and CarPlay apps for third-party apps you have installed on your iPhone no longer have to be mirrored on CarPlay. For example, you could remove Apple’s Podcasts app and instead use Overcast for podcast playback. Or you could use Apple Music but have Spotify installed on your iPhone and not show up on CarPlay.
Just navigate to Settings → General → CarPlay → [Your Car] under My Cars, then tap the subtract or add button on the app icons you want to remove or add. CarPlay still requires Phone, Music, Maps, Messages, Now Playing, and Car apps.
While you still can’t remove certain apps on CarPlay, you can now rearrange any CarPlay app just like you’d expect from iOS. You’ll need to visit the same section in Settings as mentioned above, then press and hold over any app icon to rearrange it. You can even hide apps that aren’t removable on their own screen. For example, I never use the Car settings icon so I’ve hidden it on page two.
Rearranging and removing CarPlay apps. Finally.
CarPlay also gains an updated Apple Music app on iOS 10 just like the iPhone. This is welcome news as Apple Music launched on iPhone with iOS 8.4, but didn’t make it to CarPlay until iOS 9.3. The new Music app reflects the same changes on CarPlay as the iPhone: a better focus on where you are in the app with easier navigation and an emphasis on your library.
The navigation tabs change from For You, New, Radio, Playlists, and My Music to Library, For You, Browse, Radio, and Now Playing. Your own music is easier to reach and includes playlists.
You can edit the Library section on Music in iOS 10 to only show categories you use to find your music. For example, I use Artists, Albums, Songs, and Playlists in that order instead of Playlists on top and a Downloaded Music section at the bottom. Changing this on the iPhone reflects the same on CarPlay. This change should be much easier to use in the car.
Maps on iOS 10 gets a new look too, but most of the new features are limited to the iPhone and iPad. Here’s the top level view on CarPlay in iOS 10:
And since CarPlay is largely based on Siri, the infotainment feature becomes more intelligent as the voice assistant learns new tricks. iOS 10 promotes VoIP apps like Skype and Facebook Messenger to first class calling apps like the built-in Phone app. Alerts can look just like phone call notifications, and call history and contacts can integrate right in the Phone app. This also means Siri can now treat VoIP apps the same as the Phone app so CarPlay will be able to use these apps to make calls over data.
Apple displayed Skype as an example of a VoIP app on CarPlay, although the CarPlay version isn’t out yet and is likely an iOS 10 feature planned later this fall.
Finally, Apple also noted that CarPlay in iOS 10 supports ultrawide screens, and something especially interesting: CarPlay Maps instrument clusters. CarPlay also gains the other new Maps features in iOS 10 announced yesterday. Here’s how instrument clusters look:
Like wireless CarPlay from previous versions of iOS, not all of the CarPlay features will be available to everyone as it’s very hardware specific, but overall the update in iOS 10 is a positive one for the experience. We’ll continue tracking changes through iOS 10 betas over the summer so stay tuned.