Alpine is launching the first aftermarket receiver with wireless CarPlay in February, and 9to5Mac got a quick hands-on demo with the feature in action at CES 2017. See Alpine’s iLX-107 with wireless CarPlay in action below.
Wireless CarPlay has officially been supported on iPhones since iOS 9, but very few companies have made hardware that works with the software protocol. BMW announced late last year that its 2017 Series 5 Sedan will be the first new car on the road to offer wireless CarPlay starting next month, but Alpine is delivering the feature in a sub-$1000 solution that doesn’t require investing in a pricey new car.
Alpine iLX-107 is a new version of the original iLX-007 and features a 7-inch capacitive touch screen, AM/FM radio, line-in and a dedicated Siri button, and wireless CarPlay works right out of the box on iPhone 5 and later running the latest version of iOS.
As a daily CarPlay user myself, I expect wireless CarPlay will be a major leap forward for Apple’s infotainment feature. That’s why we awarded Alpine’s iLX-107 with our 9to5Mac Best of CES 2017 Award.
Before now, CarPlay has required a wired connection to work
Using CarPlay over the wire is fine for most trips, but taking your iPhone out of your pocket and plugging in the wire for short drives isn’t convenient. I really appreciate CarPlay when I’m driving, but I often fall back to Bluetooth for wireless and automatic playback when I’m only driving a few minutes away.
Alpine’s display size and touch screen technology is superior to some entry-level CarPlay receivers, although the physical controls and non-CarPlay software could be more attractive.
Still, Alpine’s hardware appears to be able to drive wireless CarPlay without issue which is impressive considering what you see on the receiver is being projected from the iPhone wirelessly. Lag could be an issue but didn’t appear as one during our brief hands-on experience.
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The bigger question is what impact wireless CarPlay will have on iPhone battery life during use. CarPlay presents a visual battery indicator when being used wirelessly which isn’t true of wired connections so you can keep an eye on your power level.
We’re looking forward to putting wireless CarPlay and Alpine’s iLX-107 receiver through further testing next month when the $899 head unit hits the market.
[UPDATE: We’ve learned that Alpine now plans to ship iLX-107 in April after missing the late February launch.]