CarPlay on iOS

CarPlay has been available for some time now, but as with many progressions in the auto industry, things take time.

I recently stumbled across a jailbreak app called Ignition, which allows you to run Apple's CarPlay software on an iOS device (developer states app is "primarily meant for an iPad, and iPhones aren't really support, however you 'can' use it with an iPhone 6 Plus if you really want").

Luckily I have an iPhone 6 Plus - and I Really Want.

CarPlay Home Screen

After a bit of reading, I learned that the reason my displays were a bit wonky (overlapping icons/text) was due to some other tweaks I have installed to to modify springboard. That aside, I was impressed with the interface, specifically observed from the perspective that it was designed to be used while driving.

Hey Siri!

Personally, the crux to my entire 'CarPlay experience', is having 'Hey Siri' enabled (Settings --> General --> Siri --> Allow "Hey Siri"), especially since my phone is typically plugged in and placed on my dashboard/center console. For those who may not know, with your iOS device charging and Hey Siri activated, you can merely speak 'Hey Siri' and a command, and Siri will do your bidding.

Now Playing Screen

The Interface

I find the CarPlay interface to be, particularly well designed for use in a car. While this statement may seem rather obvious, I am particular to the way my apps display, especially when they're being used in the car.

For example, the iOS Maps app on the iPhone 6 Plus is merely a wide-screen version of the application, showing the user more map data to the left and right of the road. This doesn't do me any good. I'm driving forward, not laterally.

Standard iOS Maps Application

Laterally speaking, it's buildings all the way down.

It doesn't get much better with Google's offering either, and I found myself previously switching between Maps, Google Maps, and Waze, depending on my mood (I will say that Google Maps' where I feel most at home, perhaps because of my military background and practice with terrain association and traditional map reading Actually, it's Waze all the way down - if they ever implement a hybrid satellite mode I'll have little to no complaints about the app).

Google Maps Interface

While in the CarPlay display, we get a nice use of the lateral space, with the added ability to adjust the height of our view:

CarPlay Mapping Interface

The Results

Pros:

  • Paired with 'Hey Siri', it's a complete hands-free experience - bad habits kicked
  • When physical interaction with the phone is required, the interface is specifically designed with larger buttons and limited applications. Even Siri's responses are limited, and many a "I'm sorry, I can't do that in the car" abound.

Cons:

  • Obviously, this is a jailbreak tweak and it isn't designed for use on an iPhone. Unfortunately, even with an iPad in place, GPS data is unreliable at best unless you're using a WiFi + Cellular model of iPad.
  • CarPlay isn't perfect, and hasn't been tested nearly as intimately as the numerous iterations of iOS have at this point. Design decisions may have been chosen differently, but it's a hell of a good start.

Overall, Ignition and subsequently CarPlay is a huge win for me personally. I'm notoriously bad for thinking that "I'm not like the rest" and that I can manage to use my phone while driving. Ignition removes the ability to interact with the phone in all but the most limited, and intended capacities, requiring you to adapt and use voice for even the simplest of tasks. With Siri's history, this may have been akin to being relegated to a classroom of 3rd graders, but after a week with CarPlay and Siri, I must admit I'm pleasantly surprised.